Algeria has remained silent on the fate of around 96 Syrian and Palestinian refugees that it has kept in detention centers in the country’s south, pro-government sources said.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the 53 Palestinians and 43 Syrians, who entered Algeria from Mali in batches a couple of weeks ago, had paid their smugglers large sums of money, hoping to reach Europe.
The sources said that the migrants, among them women and children, have refused to travel to Europe via Libya, fearing for their safety. So instead they reached Algeria in hopes of being smuggled to a European country.
Upon their arrest, Algerian authorities decided to deport them to their home countries. They later backed off over fears that they would come under heavy criticism from international human rights organizations.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier said that the migrants include around 25 military deserters and that one of them has been diagnosed with cancer.
The migrants left Syria’s Daraa province after it fell under regime control and then moved from one country to another before reaching Algeria, the war monitor said.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that local human rights NGOs and international agencies concerned over the condition of the migrants have sought statements from the Algerian interior and foreign ministries.
Yet their calls went unanswered.
“Algeria is dealing with this case in a suspicious silence, mainly because it doesn’t know how to deal with it,” the sources said.
The Algerian army has put the refugees in camps that were first established last year for the purpose of detaining Nigerian migrants, who enter Algeria illegally, pending their deportation.