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.

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.


Niger says 92 migrants found dead in Sahara

01 November 2013, 11:16

Niamey - Rescuers have found the bodies of 92 migrants, most of them women and children, strewn across the Sahara desert in northern Niger after their vehicles broke down and they died of thirst, authorities said on Thursday.

Rescue worker Almoustapha Alhacen said the bodies of 52 children, 33 women and seven men were found close to the Algerian border, about 160km north of the mining town of Arlit in northern Niger.

Many of the victims, all believed to be from Niger, were in an advanced state of decomposition and had been partly devoured by animals, probably jackals, he said.

Niger's government declared three days of national mourning starting on Friday and said it would launch a crackdown on the networks ferrying migrants across the Sahara.

Northern Niger lies on a major corridor for illegal migration and people-trafficking from sub-Saharan African into north Africa and across the Mediterranean into Europe.

Most of those who make the perilous journey on ancient open-topped trucks are young African men in search of work. Rescuers said the doomed convoy was puzzling.

"It's the first time I've seen anything like it," Alhacen told Reuters by telephone from Arlit. "It is hard to understand what these women and children were doing there."

Rescuers found many small writing slates among the luggage, suggesting the children may have been students in a Qu'ranic school being taken to Algeria, perhaps to beg, Alhacen said.

Alhacen said 19 of the group had reached Algeria by foot and were repatriated to Niger by authorities there. Two survived after walking dozens of kilometres across the burning desert back to Arlit.

The bodies of 87 of the victims were buried on Wednesday in accordance with Islamic custom, he said.

Trucks break down

The migrants had set off in two trucks from Arlit towards Tamanrasset in Algeria sometime between late September or early October, officials said.

After one truck broke down, the second turned back to look for help but was stranded and the passengers tried to return by foot. It was weeks before authorities were alerted and able to reach the site.

"Sometimes in the vast desert, there are tragedies like this which are never even discovered," government spokesman Marou Amadou told state television.

"So the government has instructed administrative authorities and defence forces to put an end to this transport which kills."

Authorities said all the passengers came from the region of Kantche in southern Niger, 700km east of the capital Niamey.

Many people emigrate to flee poverty in Niger, ranked by the United Nations as the least developed country on earth. Some work in neighbouring Libya and Algeria to save money before returning home.

The networks which send trucks across the desert also attract migrants from other countries in West Africa who dream of a more prosperous life in Europe.

Many of the people-smugglers are from nomadic groups who have seen their traditional pastoral lifestyle destroyed by droughts since the 1970s, according to a UN report published in February.

More than 32 000 people have arrived in southern Europe from Africa so far this year.

A crackdown by Spanish authorities has largely closed a route from the West African coast to the Canary Islands which drew tens of thousands of migrants in the mid-2000s.

Instead, most now try to make the Mediterranean crossing from north Africa to southern Europe, many losing their lives when their rickety boats are wrecked.

More than 500 people are believed to have died in two shipwrecks off southern Italy this month.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

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

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...