Panafrican News Agency

Asylum seekers in Niger set refugee camp on fire

Niamey, Niger (PANA) - Asylum seekers, mostly Sudanese, on Sunday set a refugee camp on fire about 15 km from Agadez town which lies 1,200 km north of the Nigerien capital, Niamey, to denounce their detention conditions and waiting time to obtain a refugee card, PANA learned on Wednesday.

Of the refugee, 350 have been identified as the ringleaders and are being questioned before they are taken to court, the Prosecutor of the Republic said at a press briefing.

According to the official, several asylum seekers on 16 December began a protest march that led them to the UNHCR's local office in Agadez.

"They had decided to illegally occupy public spaces around that office and maintained a sit-in that lasted until 4 January 2020,"  he added.

When they were forcibly removed from their accommodation site, they set fire to the centre and threw projectiles targeting the police.

The fire caused extensive damage and injuries to several people, according to the prosecutor, who deplored the protesters' attitude.

Visiting Agadez on Tuesday, UNHCR Representative Alexandra Morelli also condemned the refugees' behaviour.

"I felt betrayed. This is the first human emotion I had, an emotion of pain. But today we are putting emotions aside and working with pragmatism and openness guided by the solidarity and the law of Niger," she said.

-0- PANA SA/JSG/BBA/AR 8Jan2020