Niger junta repeals law aimed at slowing migration to Europe

File photo: Migrants are seen in silhouette, as they board a ship to be transferred to the mainland, on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, September 15, 2023. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File photo
Migrants are seen in silhouette

On Monday, the junta that rules Niger announced that it had repealed anti-migration legislation that had been criticized by desert residents whose businesses had been dependent on the traffic for a long time. The law effectively reduced the number of West Africans who traveled to Europe.

The law, which made it illegal to transport migrants through Niger, was passed in May of 2015, at a time when the number of people traveling across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa reached record highs. This caused a political and humanitarian crisis in Europe, where governments came under pressure to stop the influx of migrants.

The junta that took control of Niger in a coup that occurred in July overturned the law on Saturday. The announcement of the repeal was made on state television on Monday evening.

At the same time as it is attempting to build up support at home, notably in the northern desert communities that had profited the most from migration, the junta is reevaluating its relations with previous Western friends who opposed the coup.

As a result of the law, the number of migrants passing through Niger, which is a significant transit country located on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, has significantly decreased over the years. However, the law has also had the effect of draining the lifeblood from towns and villages that had previously sustained migrants by providing them with food and shelter and selling them car parts and fuel.

In response, the European Union established the Trust Fund for Africa in 2015, a five billion euro fund to eliminate the underlying reasons for migration; nevertheless, many people believed this was insufficient. The unemployment rate skyrocketed in areas such as the old city of Agadez, which served as a famous entrance to the Sahara.

It is unknown how European politicians will react to the news or how it will affect the number of people migrating to Europe.

However, many embraced it. Before the authorities confiscated his vehicles in 2016, Andre Chani was able to make thousands of dollars every month by transporting migrants through the desert as a means of transportation. He intends to relaunch his company once he collects the necessary funds.

“I’m going to start again,” he stated in a text message that Agadez sent him on Monday. “We are very happy.”

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