World

Thirty-Four Migrants Found Dead in Niger Desert

Illegal immigrants wait to board a bus at dawn from Niamey to a local immigration transit centre in the desert town of Agadez, Niger May 22, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

Illegal immigrants wait to board a bus at dawn from Niamey to a local immigration transit centre in the desert town of Agadez, Niger May 22, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

Niamey: Thirty-four migrants, including 20 children, have been found dead in Niger‘s vast desert after being abandoned by their smuggler, the government of the West African nation said in a statement read on national television on Wednesday.

Agadez in the landlocked country’s arid north is a popular way station for migrants attempting to traverse the Sahara Desert and reach Libya and eventually Europe.

Of the adult migrants, nine were women and five were men. They died between June 6-12, Interior Minister Bazoum Mohammed said, adding that President Mahamadou Issoufou expressed his condolences to their families.

Two victims had been identified as citizens of neighbouring Nigeria, Mohammed said. It was not immediately clear what the nationalities of the other victims were.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 120,000 people crossed through Agadez last year. IOM recorded 37 migrants died in the desert last year.

(Reuters)