UN Migration Agency in Mali Assists Over 1,100 Sub-Saharan Migrants at Algerian Border

Posted: 
05/08/18
Themes: 
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, EUTF, Migrant Assistance, Missing Migrants

Gao – Since 10 April, 1,135 West African migrants – including 9 women and 30 children – have been assisted by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in Gao, northern Mali. These migrants were apprehended by the Algerian authorities when they were attempting to reach Europe via Algeria.

The migrants entered Mali via Inkhalid, a small town along Algeria’s southern border with Mali, after they were deported by the Algerian authorities. Located in Mali’s desert region of Kidal and declared an area of insecurity since the country’s 2012 political crisis (as a result of a military coup and rebellion in the north) Inkhalid has no infrastructure to house the hundreds of returning migrants and no public transportation to Gao, the closest city under the Malian government’s control – and a 36-hour drive away, through the desert. Given the security situation in the area, assistance operations are also difficult.

In Gao, IOM and its partners, local civil society organizations, the Malian Red Cross, UNICEF and shelter centres (Regional Directorate of Civil Protection, Migrant Reception Centre, Direy Ben and La Maison des Migrants) work together to house the hundreds of migrants in need of immediate assistance (reception, profiling, food, accommodation, non-food item provision and health care) until they are transferred to the Civil Protection Transit Centre of Sokoniko, Bamako.

The rescued migrants mainly come from Mali but also from Guinea, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger, the Gambia, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Liberia, and Nigeria and are all in alarming health conditions.

“Some 488 migrants arrived in one day (23/4), but the IOM office in Gao can house a maximum of 300 people,” said Oscar Safari, head of the IOM sub-office in Gao. “To better assist these migrants and continue our work in good conditions, IOM in Bamako immediately deployed additional staff in Gao. However, even more staff and equipment are urgently needed to deal with daily arrivals to Gao.”

In Bamako, Malian authorities and IOM are facing the same difficulties. The Sokoniko Civil Protection Centre and other such reception centres have also reached their capacity even though the rescued migrants still need to receive immediate assistance. Private centres were contacted by IOM to respond to the housing needs of the next wave of returning migrants, before the opening of the Migrant Centre built by the Government of Mali.

“Since April 2018, large migration flows were observed at the border between Algeria and Mali,” said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Chief of Mission in Mali. “IOM works hard to provide immediate assistance to returning migrants. Given the conditions in which these migrants arrive and the immediate need to facilitate their return to their countries of origin, emergency response with adequate actions should be conducted. We should increase our response capacity to deal with these emergencies.”

To date, 509 people were transported by IOM to Bamako, and 242 have returned to their countries of origin. The consular services in Bamako are facilitating the safe return of the remaining migrants in their countries of origin across the region. Until their departure, migrants will be assisted by IOM and its partners.

Notably, since September 2017, IOM witnessed large migration flows at the border between Algeria and Niger. Since 1 January, over 3,000 migrants were rescued in the desert and 1,500 last week only. Most of the migrants assisted by IOM Niger were found in bad health conditions after they were brought to the Algerian border and left in the desert.

Nigerien authorities and IOM rescued and transported the 1,500 migrants to Arlit and then to the Transit centre in Agadez. IOM, through its Resource and Response Mechanism for Migrants (MRRM) programme and in collaboration with Niger authorities, UNICEF and NGOs, provides basic humanitarian assistance for these people upon their arrival in Niger and before they return to their place of origin. Voluntary return operations to their countries of origin are now underway under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

Since September 2017, IOM witnessed large migration flows at the border between Algeria and Niger. Since January 1, over 3,000 migrants were rescued in the desert and 1,500 last week only. Most of the migrants assisted by IOM Niger were found in alarming health conditions after they were brought to the Algerian border and left in the desert. Nigerien authorities and IOM rescued and transported the 1,500 migrants to Arlit and then to the Transit center in Agadez. IOM, through its Resource and Response Mechanism for Migrants (MRRM) programme and in collaboration with Niger authorities, UNICEF and NGOs, provides basic humanitarian assistance for these people upon their arrival in Niger and before they return to their place of origin. Voluntary return operations to their countries of origin are now underway under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

For more information please contact Seydou Tangara at IOM Mali, Tel: +223 76 42 63 59, Email: stangara@iom.int or Hamed Diallo, Tel: + 223 75 63 53 24, Email: hdiallo2@iom.int

  • IOM staff assist a migrant at a transit centre in Mali. Photo: IOM

  • Some of the migrants who have been assisted by IOM, the UN Migration Agency in Mali. Photo: IOM

  • Some of the migrants who have been assisted by IOM, the UN Migration Agency in Mali. Photo: IOM