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18 Migrants Found Dead in Sahara Desert
International

18 Migrants Found Dead in Sahara Desert

The bodies of 18 West African migrants hoping to reach Europe were found in the Sahara Desert near Arlit in Niger, the International Organization for Migration said on Sunday.
The 17 men and one woman found dead were from at least eight countries, including Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Guinea. They were traveling in a land cruiser but lost their way in a sandstorm before running out of fuel and getting stuck in the sand, World Bulletin reported.
One, an Algerian, had captured a camel to get to the town of Assamaka, close to Niger’s border with Algeria, to get water and help. But he fell off and died. The others died of dehydration on about June 3 and were found eight days later, IOM said.
If they had wanted to reach Tripoli, the capital of Libya, they would still have faced a journey of 2,340 km by the shortest road route.
The discovery of the group offers a rare glimpse of what migration experts say is a hidden tragedy in the Sahara. Many thousands are attempting to cross the vast and inhospitable terrain to reach the Libyan coast, where they hope to begin another hazardous trip by boat to Europe.
“This case is indicative of the difficulties of these journeys, even before reaching the boats in Libya,” Giuseppe Loprete, the head of IOM in Niger, said in emailed comments.
“We have to ask ourselves how many people have died in the desert even before making it to the Mediterranean. We don’t think this is an isolated case but without a systematic collection of information or without a ‘rescue’ operation we will never know how many migrants could be possibly missing.”
Loprete said patrolling the desert to try to prevent such deaths was “nearly impossible.”

 

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