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🇳🇪 Niger: Europe Migration | People and Power



Niger has long been a key staging point for migrants and asylum seekers from sub-Saharan West Africa, but the traffic reached a peak in 2015/16 when the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimated that 330,000 people followed the desert routes north – through often inhospitable country – to reach Libya or Algeria, and then the Mediterranean coast and sea crossings to Europe.

The exponential growth mostly came about because the chaotic descent of Libya into civil conflict in the years after the Arab Spring opened up new routes and border crossings and made it easier for people traffickers to operate in the security vacuum, but it also flourished because it generated significant income and employment for northern Niger and its largest city, Agadez. Much of this was from the perfectly legitimate businesses – in transport and accommodation – that sprang up to service and feed off and then further develop the migrant trade. The increased wealth was welcomed because it helped bring back a measure of stability to an area that had seen its own insurgency during the Tuareg Rebellion of 2007-2009 and which had been struggling economically in the aftermath.

But even as the traffic was burgeoning, the Nigerien government was coming under pressure from the European Union, which was keen to find a response to the alarming flows of people coming across the Mediterranean. Close to its own maritime borders the EU began working with the Libyan coastguard and others to refashion methods of deterring that sea borne traffic, but it also looked for innovative ways of stemming the movement of people on land much further south.

So, to the grateful relief of the EU, Niger passed new anti-smuggling laws. In early 2016, its interior minister Mohamed Bazoum ordered their implementation across the country, sending police out to arrest smugglers (most of whom, of course, had previously been operating within locals laws) and confiscating hordes of the ubiquitous pick-up trucks that drivers had become used to piling high with lucrative migrant passengers.

The new laws quickly began making a big dent in the migrant flow, bringing down the number of travelers passing through Agadez from around 24,000 a month in 2016 to around 5500 a month in 2017.

But there have been other consequences and many of them difficult for Niger. The economic fallout for the north of the country has been considerable – with revenues in Agadez alone being reduced by around $117 million a year, according to the IOM. Indeed the losses across the area have been so significant that the EU has had to offer $635 million to compensate those who had once made a living out of migration through a reconversion plan involving business grants and loans and other support, although so far the difficulties of qualifying for any such support seem to be keeping the take-up of these opportunities to a minimum.

Moreover, where previously migrants were able to move openly, they now have to use clandestine back routes through remote desert country to avoid villages and police patrols. This is dangerous. The UN roughly estimates that for every migrant death in the Mediterranean sea, now two die in the Sahara desert.

Meanwhile, community leaders fear that youth unemployment and the lack of long-term investment (notwithstanding the EU’s struggling compensation scheme) to develop alternative economic models could lead to increasing criminality and insecurity. With the migrant traffic suppressed, police warn that drug trafficking is becoming an ever more attractive option and elders fear that idle young men who would once have worked in the migration trade could now easily fall prey to the competing radical attractions of Boko Haram or Daesh, which pose a growing threat across this part of West Africa.

So how to best assess the EU’s apparent attempt to push Europe’s borders this far south? Niger is rated as one of the world’s least-developed nations by the UN, but is it now paying too high a price for Europe’s anti-immigration policies? We sent correspondent Juliana Ruhfus and filmmakers Marco Salustro and Victoria Baux to find out.

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30 comments

  1. Africa is so beautiful I get nostalgia And I've never been there before I'm Haitian born and raised in The North American continent but have unexplained nostalgia.

  2. Minute 10:25; “the Europeans come to get our resources (that is why we are poor)…” biggest misconception ever. Those resources are there but they have no means, no technology no way to extract them, exploit them nor sell them.
    Their misery is perpetuated by their own demographic explosion and the lack of basic resources to pair their needs.

  3. This is all the fault of the White man they are the cause of all this miseries going around Africa

  4. 10:1610:54 if our grandparents thought like how is that young man thinks, on god we colonized the whole world.

  5. Pilas pilas gobiernos y UNO

  6. EUROPEANS ARE AS POOR AS AFRICANS…..LOOK AT GREECE, ITALY, SPAIN, ROMANIA, CZECH, BULGARIA, HUNGRY, POLAND & THE REST

  7. French speaking Africans are poor because of France's CFA monetary system

  8. الله يرزقك يابلادي الحبيبة 🇮🇪💔

  9. Hmmm oooh African when 😭😭😭

  10. They have to stop the smugglers thats the only way

  11. The drivers are demons they need to go to prison. People need to create work and stop the wars.

  12. We go to Africa we take there things Africa will again and take it back

  13. Europe like it or not but Africans will enter in there country

  14. when we are coming 25 people died, we all 38 people, I miss my mother and father, now I do not have family, only me In my life

  15. This solider are more devilish than the police

  16. Thanks for this video I was a victim we were 30in the open van, 8⃣ in numbers that flewed from Sierra Leone because of violence we are facing in our own country. We are in the desert 🏜 for two weeks no food 🍲 no water I lost 5 of my friends in the desert 😭😭that we left Sierra Leone, only 3 of us make it to Libya 🇱🇾 in Libya again three of us that survived in the desert 2 of them died again in the sea.,so am advising young, adults African who want to make it to Europ, should not try this way. Les make the world a better place for you and me and children yet Unborn 🤝🏼am thinking about them all times may there souls rest in peace 😭😭.Am now in Germany 🇩🇪.

  17. All white Europeans do is send GUNS to Africa. China comes to invest. The young brother exposed what's going on. Europeans steal resources and sell them back to Africa.

  18. The white people alway want to know about the black people! Why? Who know about the white people? level African people alon bad people. The white people can never help you

  19. Hahahaha it can’t be possible

  20. 13:45 is called Sigdime is a little village part from Niger where i was abandoned for 2 weeks without food and the waterwell u guys are seeing their which is having a tire on top of the Well that was what i use to drink before i live….etc

  21. The closing remark is the solution to this problem

  22. Europe is full, no more money.

  23. mans is speaking hausa with a french accent

  24. so glad to see the migrant traffickers turned into drug dealers by now

  25. They shouldn't be compensated for not breaking the law.

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