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Niger authorities rescue 92 ditched migrants

15 June 2017

The International Organization for Migration says its team and Niger authorities have rescued more than 90 migrants abandoned in the hot Sahara Desert on their way to Libya.

He added that the migrants - most of whom were from Nigeria, Senegal and Burkina Faso - were fortunate to have been abandoned near a well.

One child is reported to have died, but there is no confirmation of this. The rescue of the illegal migrants in the desert is closing a chapter of a non-concluded tragedy, since the soldiers of the Army of Niger are still looking for another group of migrants lost days ago, and of whom no one knows their whereabouts. The unforgiving conditions of the Sahara Desert mean that a broken down vehicle is often a death sentence for migrants.

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"This is unfortunately a typical story for them", and migrants are often treated badly, he said.

Last June, the bodies of 34 migrants - including 20 children - were recovered near the Niger-Algeria border.

The plight of people as they try to escape war, starvation and economic hardship and try to find a better life forces them to take riosks such as walking across the Sahara Desert in blazing heat. "(The smugglers) tell them that if they do not have money, they can not continue.

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"When they're lucky, someone passing by or a military patrolling or IOM teams will find them if they're not too far from the normal route", he said.

More than 40 people died of thirst in the Sahara Desert about a fortnight ago after their truck broke down.

The migrants were saved close to the arid dusty town of Achegour, the paper said, a transit point for migrants seeking work in Libya or trying to reach the sea to sail to Europe. Some 300,000 migrants passed through the vast West African nation in 2016 alone, according to IOM.

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Niger authorities rescue 92 ditched migrants