Fewer migrants are crossing Niger for Libya: IOM

Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:10pm GMT
 

By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) - The number of migrants crossing Niger to reach Libya has declined, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Friday, after Europe pledged Niger money to help it fight people-smuggling.

The IOM monitors trucks carrying migrants at a desert crossroads in eastern Niger commonly used to reach Libya, where more than half a million have set out on flimsy boats for Europe in the past three years. Thousands have died in the crosssing.

The number of migrants observed at the transit point has fallen off significantly since September 2016, the IOM says.

Some 292,000 passed through the Niger town of Seguedine between February and December last year, while 8,700 came through in the first two months of this year.

Numbers in Agadez, where smugglers gather migrants for the dangerous Sahara crossing, also appear to have declined, IOM Niger mission chief Giuseppe Loprete told Reuters by telephone.

"The flows are not as high as last year. There's no comparison," Loprete said. "The government is blocking and arresting traffickers and confiscating trucks."

AID PROMISED   Continued...

Migrants crossing the Sahara desert into Libya ride on the back of a pickup truck outside Agadez, Niger, May 9, 2016.   REUTERS/Joe Penney
 
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