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Algeria expels thousands of migrants to Niger: HRW

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An African migrant from Niger hides with her newborn child under a structure as she tries to avoid deportation on July 2, 2018 at a transit centre for migrants in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. AFP / RYAD KRAMDI

Algerian security forces have arrested thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, cramming them onto trucks and buses before expelling them across the border in Niger, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

“Algeria is entitled to protect its borders, but not to arbitrarily detain and collectively expel migrants, including children and asylum seekers, without a trace of due process,” HRW said.

Over 3,400 migrants have been expelled in the past month, HRW said in a statement issued in Beirut.

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It brings the total number expelled this year to over 16,000, the watchdog added, basing its calculations on reports from aid groups in Niger.

Around a half of those are Nigerien, but include people from at least 20 nationalities.

Landlocked Niger is on a key cross-Saharan route for African migrants trying to reach the Mediterranean and then cross to Europe.

“They pushed us into the desert and left us there, saying, ‘This is the way to Niger,'” Abdul, from Sierra Leone, told HRW.

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Others told the rights group that police seized people’s belongings before dropping them in the desert in the baking heat.

“They told us, ‘You came to Algeria with nothing, and you will leave with nothing,'” said a 28-year-old man from Ivory Coast, HRW reported.

Algeria has carried out waves of deportations in recent years, including an estimated 25,000 to Niger in 2018, and another 25,000 in 2019, HRW added.

There was no immediate response from the government in Algiers.

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