Niger will continue to welcome African migrants: president

2018-07-08 16:16
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Niger will continue to be a transit country for migrants, including those entering from neighbouring Libya, President Mahamadou Issoufou said on Saturday.

"We are a people open to hospitality, we are a generous people. We will welcome people who are in difficulty, who are in disarray. It is the tradition of our country," President Issoufou said after meeting a UN delegation led by Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohamed.

"The main thing is that people do not stay long in Niger. It is necessary that the transit in Niger happens very quickly... that is the only condition that we pose," Issoufou told journalists.

Libya has become a prime destination for African migrants trying to reach Europe, but it is also dangerous, with many migrants and refugees enduring enslavement, kidnapping, extortion and violence.

Issoufou hailed "the good collaboration" with the European Union in the fight against illegal migration, but said the 2.1bn fund set up by the EU for his country as "not enough".

"It's a drop in the ocean in our funding needs," he said.

Issoufou also noted the "good collaboration" with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which transports refugees stranded in Libya to Niamey while waiting for a host country.

According to UNHCR, they are "vulnerable" refugees and live mainly in Libyan "detention" camps.

At the end of June, the UNHCR called on European countries to speed up the procedures for leaving transit countries for the refugees they have decided to host.

"These people must leave Niger" so that they do not "stay too long," he said, adding only 200 people had left the country in the last six months, compared to 1 200 who arrived from Libya.

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