They died of thirst after human traffickers had abandoned them in the desert. Twenty children, five men and nine women were found near Assamaka, a border post between Niger and Algeria, which has become a prime destination. From there, they embark for Italy.
Niger’s Interior Minister Mohammed Bazoum announced this tragic news, explaining that their death dates back to about a week ago, between 6 and 12 June. Authorities were able to identify only two bodies so far. They belong to a Nigerien couple of 26.
According to the World Organization for Migration (IOM), Niger is one of the main migratory routes towards the European Union, especially towards Italy. Considering that according to the organization’s data, 60% of the migrants who cross Libya, to reach Italy via the central Mediterranean, have passed through Niger.
The head of IOM’s Analysis Center in Berlin defined the Mediterranean route as “the most dangerous passage in the world.” In 2015 alone, according to data provided by the organization, at least 3,771 refugees who were fleeing from war and famine died at sea while trying to reach Europe. The most tragic month last year was April, when 1,250 migrants died: 800 of them drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya. According to the report, 77% of deaths (about 2,892 people) occurred in the central Mediterranean, a long route that connects Libya, Italy, and Malta. 21% (805 people) died along the route between Turkey and Greece; whereas 74 deaths were registered between the Maghreb and Spain. Second riskiest route for migrants, after the Mediterranean, crosses the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman sea towards Malaysia and Thailand (800 deaths in 2015); 330 people died between the US and Mexico.