18 migrants found dead in Niger's desert

2015-06-14 19:03
(Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

(Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - The bodies of 18 west African migrants hoping to reach Europe have been found in the Sahara desert near Arlit in Niger, the International Organisation for Migration said on Sunday.

The discovery of the group offers a rare glimpse of what migration experts say is a hidden tragedy in the Sahara.

Many thousands are attempting to cross the vast and inhospitable terrain in order to reach the Libyan coast, where they hope to begin another hazardous trip by boat to Europe.

"This case is indicative of the difficulties of these journeys, even before reaching the boats in Libya," Giuseppe Loprete, the head of IOM in Niger, said in e-mailed comments.

"We have to ask ourselves how many people have died [are dying] in the desert even before making it to the Mediterranean. We don't think this is an isolated case but without a systematic collection of information or without a 'rescue' operation we will never know how many migrants could be possibly missing."

The flow of migrants in the Mediterranean is documented by multiple parties, from coast guards and navies to local authorities and aid organisations. The IOM has said increasing numbers of west Africans have taken the trip this year, although the most common nationalities are still Syrians and Eritreans.

Loprete said patrolling the desert to try to prevent such deaths was "nearly impossible".

The 17 men and one woman found dead were from at least eight countries including Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Guinea.

They were travelling in a land cruiser but lost their way in a sandstorm before running out of fuel and getting stuck in the sand.

One, an Algerian, captured a camel and tried to get to the town of Assamaka, which is close to Niger's border with Algeria, to get water and help. But he fell off and died. The others died of dehydration on about June 3 and were found eight days later, IOM said, citing its staff in Niger and local authorities.

The group had been on the way from Arlit to Assamaka. If they had wanted to reach Tripoli, the capital of Libya, they would still have faced a journey of 2 340km by the shortest road route.


Read more on:    niger  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.