As Algeria faces outcry over its recent deportation of Syrian refugees, Algiers has responded to critics that Syrians are a security threat.
Rabat – The Algerian government has responded to international criticism for expelling Syrian migrants, citing concerns over terrorism.
Al Jazeera quoted Hassen Kacimi, the head of the migration department at the interior ministry, as saying that the 50 migrants Algeria expelled to Niger last week were suspected to have a terrorist background. Algeria had previously claimed the Syrians were irregular migrants.
Defending Algeria’s policy, Kacimi told Reuters, “We have hosted 50,000 Syrians in the past few years for humanitarian reasons. But we cannot accept members of armed groups fleeing from Syria when it comes to our security.”
He added: “This is a criminal network and we must be very vigilant not to allow them to enter into Algeria.”
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In November, Anwar Al Bouni of the Syrian Center of Studies and Legal Research took to Facebook to denounce Algeria’s treatment of Syrians.
Al Bouni accused the country of being insensitive to tSyrian refugeeshe plight of Syrians, likening Algeria’s attitude to the racial profiling of Arabs by an Arab state. He wrote that Syrian refugees were “stuck in an Arab country.”
According to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), Algiers expelled 50 “desperate and distressed” mostly Syrian refugees on December 25 and 26.
LADDH said in a statement the Syrians were “abandoned somewhere in the desert between Algeria and Niger where they are in great distress and facing hunger and cold weather.”
Kacimi said the Syrians had come through the Malian and Nigerien border to seek refuge in Algeria. Algeria considers the Niger-Mali route a hub of insecurity and illicit activities. People who use that route are suspected of being armed fighters, Kacimi explained.
LADDH has adamantly criticized Algeria’s “insensitive” move. The rights group said it was doubtful whether the latest deported convoy of refugees has terrorist links.
According to LADDH’s statement, the latest deported refugees were Syrians, Yemenis, and Palestinians, with “a considerable number of children and pregnant women.”