34 migrants were found dead last week in the Nigerien desert in an attempt to travel to neighbouring Algeria, the Nigerien Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
Among the 34 found near Assamaka, a border post between Niger and Algeria, are five men, nine women and 20 children who “probably died of thirst, as is often the case,” it was suggested.
The statement said only two bodies, a Nigerian and a 26-year-old Nigerien woman, were identified adding that between June 6 and 12, many migrants had been abandoned by smugglers on the desert.
The Nigerien ministry also cautioned illegal migrants about the risks they face in trying to “take this perilous path managed by criminal networks”.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Niger is one of the pivotal migratory routes to the European Union and particularly to Italy.
“60% of migrants traveling through Libya to reach Europe by the Central Mediterranean passed through Niger,” the organisation said.
Algeria has become a prime destination for African migrants hoping to reach Europe after Libya became war-ridden.
In 2015, more than 7,000 Nigeriens illegally in Algeria were returned to their country under an agreement between Algiers and Niamey.