Dozens of Europe-Bound Migrants Die in Sahara Desert After Becoming Stranded

Only a year ago, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) documented 335,000 migrants heading northwards out of Niger.

They say several children are among the dead.

34 migrants, among them 20 children, were also found dead in the Sahara desert near the Niger-Algeria border in June previous year.

The Reuters news agency reports that six survivors walked to a remote village to raise the alarm, but it was too late for numerous migrants who had died of thirst.

The survivors, five men and one woman, had walked until they were rescued near the town of Achigour, said Taher.

Efforts were underway by Nigerien authorities to visit the scene and evacuate the bodies.

He added that most West African migrants leave their countries of origin due to poor economic opportunities as they dream for a better future in Europe.

The route from Niger to Libya is one of the main ways migrants reach North Africa before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Friday that it was shocked to hear about the reported deaths of 44 migrants and refugees in the Sahara Desert this week, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana. It is unknown how many people die in attempts to cross the desert because bodies are usually left behind and may never be found.

Meanwhile, IOM's Missing Migrants Project (MMP) has recorded 2,300 migrant deaths worldwide (up to 31 May) this year (see chart below), with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths, about two thirds of the global total.

It appeared they had died of thirst after being abandoned by their smuggler, a government minister said at the time.

  • Leroy Wright