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UN Condemns Collective Expulsions of Migrants From Algeria

Migrants deported from Algeria gather to retrieve their belongings at the International Organization for Migration transit center in Agadez, Niger, May 6, 2016.
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United Nations officials are calling on Algeria to stop the collective expulsions of thousands of migrants. The migrants are mainly from sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.N. Human Rights office condemned the expulsion activity as a violation of international human rights law. The U.N. office says Algerian officials carried out at least six mass expulsions of migrants in Oran, Duira and Boufarik between March 8 and April 19.

Ravina Shamdasani is a spokesperson for the U.N. agency. She said that raids are reportedly carried out at building industry workplaces and in neighborhoods where migrants live. She said police also stop migrants in the street and detain them.

Shamdasani told VOA that Algerian officials are taking the action without any examination or consideration of the individuals.

“We are told that people are often just arrested and detained without even checking their documents. Of the 25 people that my colleagues spoke to in Niger, only one said that she actually had her passport checked."

Shamdasani said many of the migrants were not permitted to get their belongings before they were expelled. She said some migrants were quickly sent to Niger.

Others, she said, have been detained in reportedly inhumane conditions in military bases.

“Nigeriens are transferred by bus to Agadez in Niger, while the others are crammed in to big trucks to be transferred to the Nigerien border where they are then abandoned and left to walk for hours in the desert heat."

Shamdasani said that the U.N. office has heard statements suggesting that the migrants who remain in Algeria are “very fearful.”

Shamdasani added that U.N. observation workers have expressed concern about these collective expulsions to Algerian officials. She would not discuss any answers they might have provided. But she said governments usually claim security issues as a reason for expulsions.

Under international human rights law, migrants are not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. They also are not to be arbitrarily deprived of property or documents. The law says migrant returns should be carried out in safe conditions and with respect.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Lisa Schlein reported this story for VOA News. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in this Story

sub-Saharanadj. south of the Sahara Desert

cram v. crowd into a small space

abandon v. to leave without needed protection or care

arbitrary adj. not planned or chosen for a particular reason

deprive v. to take something away from someone or something : to not allow (someone or something) to have or keep (something)