The remains of 34 migrants were discovered near the Algeria-Niger border, raising the total number of recorded deaths and disappearances in Africa this year to 471, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The migrants, abandoned by their smuggler, were found near the city of Arlit, a town approximately 200km south of the Niger border with Algeria.
IOM estimates that at least 120,000 have passed through Niger since January, an especially dangerous trek for migrants with temperatures reaching well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The 34 migrants found, the only recorded deaths by IOM in Niger, are likely only a fraction of migrant fatalities in North Africa.
Julia Black, a researcher for IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) spoke of “an alarming trend of violent deaths for migrants in North Africa, with dozens of cases of physical and sexual abuse of migrants directly leading to their death. It is likely that many more cases go unrecorded.”
IOM’s Missing Migrants Project estimates that 85 of the 342 recorded deaths in North Africa this year were of migrants in route to the Canary Islands off the Moroccan coast. 20 of the 34 found were children under 18.
“Women and children among the migrant group almost always mean migrants bound for Algeria,” explained Giuseppe Loprete, Chief of Mission for IOM Niger. The route costs migrants USD 300-500, about half the cost of the route from Niger to Libya. The low cost pulls in poorer migrants who can be easily exploited and trafficked.
Loprete suggested that traveling to Algeria from Niger might be more dangerous than the journey to Libya.