Members of the International Organization for Migration (OIM) have located 83 in the Nigerian region of Agadez migrants that were heading towards Libya and what had remained abandoned in full desert of the Sahara, where temperatures usually exceed 38 degrees.
The group, made up mostly of Nigerians and including two four-year-old sisters, had departed a week earlier from the city of Agadez, aboard four vans that sought alternative routes to the official ones to avoid security controls.
The migrants explained that they made a stop some 230 kilometers north of Dirkou and that, after resuming the trip, the drivers saw several military vehicles and decided to abandon the passengers, taking all their belongings with them.
“We were left without food or water for three days. We were looking for water, but all we found were dirty wells used by cattle,” said one of the migrants, who the IOM identifies as ‘Dennis’. “People fell to one side and the other. I began to cry when I saw several cars approaching, I hoped they would help,” he added.
When the rescue team located this group, many of its members were dehydrated, injured and in need of urgent medical assistance. The IOM transferred them to Dirkou, where they are quarantined to prevent coronavirus infections and have received health care.
The search teams carry out frequent searches on the routes that the mafias usually use to transfer migrants to Libya, looking for groups like the last one located. However, the Agadez region alone spans 703,000 square kilometers.
As the mayor of Dirkou, Boubacar Djaram, has pointed out, “the migrants rescued last Thursday were located in an isolated place far from any form of life”, for which he has warned that, without help, they probably “would have died”.
So far this year, the work coordinated by the IOM and local authorities have already allowed 321 migrants to be assisted in this area, but the head of the organization’s mission in Niger, Barbara Rijks, has admitted that “it is impossible to know how many migrants have died trying to cross the Sahara. “