Before mid-2016, there were between 100 and 200 vehicles, mostly pickups, each filled with around 30 migrants heading for Libya, that were making such a journey every week. Since mid-2016, however, under pressure from the European Union, and with promises of financial support, the Niger government began cracking down on the northward flow of sub-Saharans, arresting drivers and confiscating cars, sometimes at the Agadez checkpoint itself. Now there are only a few cars transporting passengers, most of them Nigeriens who have managed to convince soldiers at the checkpoint—often with the help of a bribe—that they do not intend to go all the way to Europe but will end their journey in Libya. In a largely stateless stretch of the Sahara, Europe has helped to empower militias as proxy border guards, some of whom are the very smugglers whose operations the EU is trying to thwart. Read the full story here.
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