Border Control In Niger

Despite these efforts, the true scale of migrant deaths across the desert is unknown. This is due to the ways in which the law’s harsh penalties have forced cross-Saharan movement within Niger further underground and into more remote areas of the desert, where incidents can easily go unnoticed. As a result, reliable data on deaths have become even more difficult to gather.

In this report, Border Forensics’ investigation mobilizes new and unique geo-spatial analysis and remote sensing methodologies to contribute to a better empirical analysis of the lethal effects of Law 2015-36 and the heightened border control it led to. We first detail the underlying context for the dramatic shifts in the approach to migration at the national level in Niger, and the role of European actors in developing Niger’s border controls from 2015 onwards to thwart migration to Europe. We further discuss the challenges of data collection that has limited the availability of empirical evidence documenting the effects of Law 2015-036. We then describe the unique methodologies we have developed and data sources we have accessed and in turn apply these methods to a multi-sited case study along a section of the Agadez-Sabha route stretching from the civilian town of Séguédine, through the military outpost of Madama, and up to the Toummo checkpoint at the Niger-Libya border. We provide a brief overview of each site before describing the remote sensing and geospatial analysis we conducted at each site. Finally, we discuss the implications of those findings for assigning accountability for the increased dangers of cross-Saharan travel in Niger in the wake of Law 2015-036.

While our analysis of each site reveals varied dynamics of bordering practices and splintering trajectories, a recurring pattern emerges pointing to a clear correlation between increased border control and the dispersal of migrants’ trajectories. In turn, we demonstrate how this dispersal sees migrants’ trajectories move deeper into the desert, where chances of survival are greatly diminished in the recurring events of vehicle failures, abandonment, or passengers running out of water.

We make visible and measurable one of the greatest risks faced in these cross-Saharan journeys: a life-threatening state of dehydration in less traveled and less surveilled areas.

The innovative methodologies presented here are intended to be a building block for an extension of the evidentiary base of the effects of border externalization. This evidence may support calls for increased accountability of all actors participating in border management, in particular the Nigerien government, the EU, and its Member States, as well as UN agencies.

Full report:

BF_Niger-Investigation_2023_EN Download

Full titleMission Accomplished? The Deadly Effects Of Border Control In Niger
PublisherBorder Forensics
Media typeReport / PDF
Topics Migration Routes & Transport, European Externalization Policies & Cash Flows
Regions Sahara and Sahel

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