“The UN Refugee Agency is concerned about the safety of vulnerable individuals from Syria, Yemen and Palestine,” said the agency in a statement.
The agency expressed concerns about the safety of refugees reportedly stranded at Algeria’s southern border with Niger.
The agency said that it had received information that the “group, comprising some 120 Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni individuals, were detained at the Tamanrasset Centre in southern Algeria before being taken to an area near the Guezzam border post on 26 December.”
A group of the refugees remain “stranded in the desert, three kilometers from the Guezzam border post where they are exposed to the elements.”
The other group “who were taken to the border are unaccounted for.”
The UNHCR said that it contacted Algerian authorities regarding the matter. It also denied that the group of refugees were moved to the border “with the agreement of UNHCR,” saying that it had no involvement.
UNHCR called on Algeria for “access to those individuals, to address humanitarian needs and to identify those in need of international protection and to ensure their safety.”
After receiving criticism from the international community, Algeria cited concerns over terrorism.
Quoted by Reuters, he added that “this is a criminal network and we must be very vigilant not to allow them to enter into Algeria.”
In the summer of 2018, UNHCR strongly criticized Algeria for abandoning migrants in the Sahara desert. The Globe and Mail reported in June 2018 that Algeria had abandoned 13,000 migrants over the past 14 months, including women and children, without food or water.