Algeria resumed repatriation of migrants from Niger with no legal right to reside in Algeria after a break of several weeks, a Red Crescent official said.
Algeria periodically repatriates migrants from sub-Saharan African countries including Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, but the decision to resume deportations comes amid debate over how to deal with irregular migration.
“The operation has already started, we will take care of the logistics,” said a Red Crescent official who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Migrants fleeing poverty and conflict in their home countries look for work in Algeria and some use it as a transit country en route to Europe via neighbouring Libya.
No official figure is available for the number of African migrants based in Algeria, but unofficial estimates put it at around 100,000.
Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced a plan to integrate migrants into the job market, responding to a shortage of workers in farming and construction. But officials have criticised the move, saying migrants were a threat to Algeria’s security.
The latest repatriations were “part of a series of measures taken by the Algerian government to strengthen co-operation with sub-Saharan African countries, notably Niger and Mali, to curb irregular migration flows facing our country,” said Benali Cherif, Algeria’s foreign affairs spokesman, according to state news agency APS.
He gave no details of how many migrants would be repatriated, but said the operation was being carried out in co-ordination with authorities in Niger.