ALGIERS – Security forces from Algeria and Niger are searching for dozens of illegal migrants who went missing in the vast desert between the two countries, an Algerian lawmaker told AFP Sunday.
“Some people, Africans, are lost in the desert and the security services of both countries, Algeria and Niger, are searching for them,” said Mohamed Guemama, an MP with the ruling National Liberation Front.
Guemama represents the prefecture of Tamanrasset, in the far south of Algeria, where part of the search was underway.
Algerian press on Sunday quoted a Nigerien military source as saying 13 bodies had been found Sunday in the scorching desert, and that another 33 people, mostly women and children, were still missing.
The Sahel-Sahara region has been plagued by jihadist violence and severe food shortages.
Countries in the Sahel include land-locked Chad, Mali and Niger, and are among the most isolated areas of the world.
People there survive on desperately-needed food aid and a drought in the Sahel region has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.
Over the past few months tens of thousands of refugees from Mali and Nigeria have fled to Niger, mostly looking for food and a better life.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA warned almost two weeks ago that five million children face the prospect of acute malnutrition in the Sahel region, stressing aid operations urgently needed funding.