The European migrant crisis is ongoing — and its impact is being felt all over the world.
One unexpected place is Algeria, a country which has expelled 13,000 migrants over the past 14 months, leaving them stranded in the Sahara desert without food or water.
As the European Union shuts down trafficking routes and other European leaders enact policies to cut down migration, some sub-Saharan African migrants from countries including Libya, Mali, and Niger have ended up in bordering countries like Algeria.
Migrants — including pregnant women and children — are dropped off in the desert and forced to walk on foot to Niger, according to the Associated Press. They must endure harsh conditions, such as temperatures up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, while heading to Niger, which lies on the southern border of Algeria; some migrants are even threatened at gunpoint. And the country doesn’t seem to have any plans for how to improve the situation.
“They bring you to the end of Algeria, to the end in the middle of the desert, and they show you that this is Niger,” Tamba Dennis, a Liberian who lived in Algeria on an expired work visa, told the AP. “If you can’t bring water, some people die on the road.”
Janet Kamara, a Liberian migrant, told the AP that she gave birth to a stillborn child and later had to bury her child in a shallow grave in the desert. Other migrants, who were originally from Niger, were forced back to their home country on cramped trucks and buses.
Some migrants have left their home countries and ended up in Algeria in search of work or in hope of eventually making it to Europe.
Their treatment has raised serious questions about human rights abuse in Algeria, though the country continues to deny criticism that deporting migrants and leaving them stranded in the Sahara is abusive. The European Union has said that they were aware of Algeria’s inhumane process but that “sovereign countries” are allowed to expel migrants as long as they adhere to international law.
The migrant crisis is getting worse. Some countries don’t seem to care.
The number of migrants in the world has rapidly grown, reaching 258 million people in 2017, according to a UN report. That’s an increase of 14 million people from 2015, which reported about 244 million migrants.
And while the number of migrants is climbing, European nations and other countries in the world are starting to shut down their borders.
Some European leaders have tried to find a solution that respects migrant rights. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been advocating for an EU-wide approach to finding a home for migrants, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron recently backed an initiative to sanction EU countries that turn away migrants. But their efforts have been met with widespread backlash from conservative parties.
Other countries like the US and Italy have been strictly enforcing policies that severely limit the number of migrants allowed to stay in the country. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump has come under fire recently for his separations of families at the border under his “zero tolerance” policy to curb immigration, while Italy turned away a boat filled with African migrants. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez allowed the boat to dock in Valencia after it was stranded at sea for two days between Malta and the Italian island Sicily.
Many of the conflicts and causes of migration, like the Syrian war and Venezuela’s mass exodus, show no signs of abating. If countries continue to shut them out, the migrant crisis is likely to get much, much worse.