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14 April 2016

A truck overloaded with West African migrants heads north from Agadez to Libya. Photo: Amanda Nero / IOM 2016.

Out of Africa

Agadez, Niger — It’s Monday and that means it’s moving day in Agadez, the northern Niger desert crossroad that is the main launching pad for migrants out of West Africa, writes Thomas Friedman in a commentary for The New York Times.

Fleeing devastated agriculture, overpopulation and unemployment, migrants from a dozen countries gather here in caravans every Monday night and make a mad dash through the Sahara to Libya, hoping to eventually hop across the Mediterranean to Europe.

This caravan’s assembly is quite a scene to witness. Although it is evening, it’s still 105 degrees, and there is little more than a crescent moon to illuminate the night. Then, all of a sudden, the desert comes alive.

Using the WhatsApp messaging service on their cellphones, the local smugglers, who are tied in with networks of traffickers extending across West Africa, start coordinating the surreptitious loading of migrants from safe houses and basements across the city. They’ve been gathering all week from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Chad, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali and other towns in Niger.

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Migrants and refugees at Horgos, on the Serbia-Hungary border (File photo). © Francesco Malavolta 2015

Piketty: EU Should Welcome One Million Immigrants a Year

He is the French economist who shot to international fame following his 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which dealt with inequality in the modern world, writes BBC Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed.

Now Thomas Piketty has launched a new crusade - an attempt to change the debate on mass immigration, which he describes as an economic good.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, the chairman of the Paris School of Economics and visiting professor at the London School of Economics said that the European Union would benefit from a major increase in the inflow of people from the rest of the world.

"The European Union has the capacity to absorb a large flow of migrants, one million per year in terms of inflow net of outflow." he said.

"This is exactly what we had between 2000 and 2010 and this was working in the sense that unemployment was being reduced. The problem is - with the austerity policies and with the recession - now we are in a situation where it's very difficult in particular with southern Europe, with the terrible economic situation that we have created there in particular."

Mr Piketty was speaking to mark the launch of his new book, Chronicles On Our Troubled Times, a collection of essays he originally wrote for the French newspapers Liberation and Le Monde and published in English for the first time.

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Migration in the News

  • Tagesschau reported that with the closure of Balkan routes, observers expect increasing numbers of migrants and refugees to travel to Italy via Libya.

  • International Business Times reported that EU Council President Donald Tusk warned of an "alarming" number of migrants and refugee ready to cross from Libya to Europe.
  • AFP told the story of Selam, an Eritrean refugee who fled the country, fell into the hands of traffickers, escaped after years of abuse and was returned to Eritrea. There she was jailed for leaving the country illegally, but subsequently escaped a second time and is now in Sudan.
  • AFP reviewed a tragicomic play on the Syrian conflict. The “Love Boat” is performed by six Syrian refugee actors at a theatre in Amman, Jordan.
  • DNAinfo reported that 'Refugees Are Welcome Here' signs are spreading across groceries, bike shops and bodegas all over Brooklyn.

Trending on the Internet

  • A Younger Theater reported that a London poetry collective are marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by featuring performances from a number of refugee and migrant poets.

  • Cumhuriyet interviewed an imam who recites prayers for the dead at a cemetery on Turkey’s west coast.

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