Irregular migrant smuggling in Niger, West Africa must go unpunished in the future. The head of the military junta repealed the relevant law, which was intended to limit migration to Europe.
The military government in Niger has repealed a law that would have reduced the number of migrants from West Africa to Europe.
The army announced the move on state television on Saturday evening. A 2015 law banned the transit of migrants through Niger.
The law was passed under pressure from the European Union
The law was part of Europe’s strategy to control migration across the Mediterranean. Niger is one of the most important transit countries for African migrants seeking to travel to Europe. The EU has been working with Niger since 2015, primarily to block the migration route from the Nigerian desert city of Agadez to Libya.
A law was passed in 2015 under pressure from the European Union, punishing those trafficked from Agadez across the Sahel to the Libyan border with up to 10 years in prison. In return, the European Union provided around 75 million euros for anti-immigration programs. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of irregular migrants in Niger has decreased since the law was introduced.
A statement from Europe on the repeal of the law was not available early in the evening.
The junta is looking for allies at home
The law was unpopular with Niger’s desert dwellers, who made their living by caring for and housing migrants. Unemployment rose in places like Agadez, the gateway to the Sahara.
Agadez representatives welcomed the annulment order. The law has had a negative economic impact on the region, known as a smuggling stronghold, said Agadez Regional Council Chairman Mohamed Anako.
The military seized power in Niger in July. After former Western allies condemned the coup, the military junta sought domestic support. Of these, desert communities in the north benefited most from migration. Among other things, they sold fuel to smugglers.
“Europe’s Horror Scene”
Repeal of the law could have serious consequences for migration across the Mediterranean, said Ulf Laesing, regional office manager for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for the Sahel: “There is now a horror situation in Europe.”
The military has been ruling Niger since the July 26 coup. The country was considered the last democratic partner of Europe and America in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region. Since the coup, relations between Niger and the West have largely ceased.
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