By Omar Bah
At least five Gambians are reported to have died in Agadez, Niger, due to a lack of food, water, and extreme wind conditions; The Standard was reliably informed yesterday. The five were among several Gambians who were sent out of Tunisia to the Algerian border and later to Niger.
“I can confirm to you that Gambian migrants are seriously suffering here. Just these past days, five young Gambians died, and were buried in the desert,” Kekuta Darboe, a migrant in Niger, said.
He revealed that several other Gambian migrants are extremely sick, with no proper medical attention.
“We don’t have enough food or water, and the weather conditions are extremely bad here. There is a lot of pollution. We are really suffering here. If you go to the hospital, they give you the same medicine all the time,” he said.
Manneh said the majority of them were part of a group of migrants sent out of Tunisia.
“We were among the Gambians driven from Tunisia and dumped at the Algerian border, and then to the Niger border. We are calling on the government and Gambians to evacuate us from this place,” he said.
He said other countries are rapidly evacuating their citizens, but the Gambia’s process is too slow.
“We need help because this place is a death trap,” he said.
In early July, Human Rights Watch accused Tunisia of expelling hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans to a desert area near the Libyan border following violence against migrants in the city of Sfax. The Gambia government responded to the development with the immediate repatriation of 87 of its citizens from Tunisia and Libya.
The Standard contacted the ministry of foreign affairs where the director of diaspora affairs, Musa Camara said they are aware of the case of the Gambian migrants in Niger and discussions have started with the IOM to facilitate their repatriation.
Camara confirmed that the migrants were from Tunisia and their movement to Niger was facilitated by the government with support from the IOM who airlifted them out of Tunisia.
“We have instructed our embassy in Abuja, Nigeria to deploy the migration focal person to Niger and meet the migrants and the IOM authorities to facilitate their return,” he said.
He said the government is aware that the migrants are impatient with the conditions they are in. “The political situation may also increase their worries and even their families as well so it has become a priority,” he said.
He appealed to the migrants to exercise patience and allow government to facilitate their return. Camara said he could not confirm the reported deaths but the ministry will find out.