Thirty-four bodies of people trying to reach Algeria, including 20 children, have been found dead in Niger’s vast desert after being abandoned by their smuggler, the government of the West African nation said in a statement read on national television on Wednesday.
Agadez in the landlocked country’s arid north is a popular waystation for migrants attempting to traverse the Sahara Desert and reach Libya and eventually Europe.
Of the adult migrants, nine were women and five were men. They died between June 6-12, Interior Minister Bazoum Mohammed said, adding that President Mahamadou Issoufou expressed his condolences to their families.
The Minister said that only two of the bodies have so far been identified: a man and a 26-year-old woman, both from Niger.
It was not immediately clear what the nationalities of the other victims were.
Temperatures in the region can reach 42C, with powerful sandstorms tearing across the desert.
The hostile conditions mean that only a fraction of those who die trying to cross the area are ever found.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 120,000 people crossed through Agadez last year. IOM recorded 37 migrants died in the desert last year.