EU to open Niger shelters for illegal immigrants

French interior minister says EU to build Niger shelters to avoid illegal immigration

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said several shelters will be prepared in Niger for African immigrants in order to prevent illegal entrances into Europe after he met with Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou in Niger’s capital city, Niamey, on Friday.

According to the decision, the shelters will be organised in the northern cities Agadez and Arlit, and in the southeastern city of Diffa. The further information has been unknown to public.

The northern city Agadez is known as the main route of the immigrants and the asylum seekers for reaching Algeria and Libya.

The interior minister Cazeneuve said that the EU countries continued to protect people who run from diseases and wars, but he added that “economic migrants should stay in their country to develop projects.”

Niger’s President Issoufou emphasized that if the EU helps African countries to develop their economies, people who seek jobs in Europe will stay at their homes, and that would “attack the problem at its root.”

“These problems of great migrations are much like those of the rural exodus. People are leaving the countryside to the cities driven by poverty, the same way people leave poor countries to go to rich countries, simply because their situation is untenable,” said Issoufou.

On Wednesday, the European Commission decided that illegal migrants and the asylum seekers are problems requiring immediate action. The Commission revealed the Niger plan as part of the solution.

As an attempt to prevent illegal immigration, Niger lawmakers introduced a new law on Tuesday. According to the newly-adopted law, smugglers of illegal immigrants into Europe will be subjected up to 30 years prison and nearly $51,000 fine.

According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, smugglers earned up to $323M a year in Libya from transporting immigrants to Europe illegally.

Agadez is the largest city in central Niger. The city has been the most important transit stations for immigrants who wants to leave Africa. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), every week nearly 4,000 migrants try to enter into Europe illegally from Agadez.

Europe is one of the most preferred destinations for displaced people hoping for a better future.

In the latest report by the EU, more than 280,000 people entered Europe illegally last year, while at least 3,072 others died in the Mediterranean.

Almost 1,800 people aiming to arrive to Europe have died in the Mediterranean since January 2015 alone, which indicates 30 times more than the same period last year.

Many of the migrants came from Middle Eastern and African countries, most commonly Syria, Eritrea and Somalia, due to the regional conflicts including poverty, diseases and war.

TRTWorld and agencies