By Fr Jerome Otitoyomi Dukiya, Caritas Nouadhibou , Mauritania
There’s a place called Tinzawaten on the border between Mali and Algeria where people are just abandoned. They’re people who’ve been deported from Algeria.
The European Union signed an agreement with Algeria about the return of migrants it was to take them back to their back to their own country, not abandon them in the desert.
The migrants left at Tinzawaten don’t eat for days and they don’t have water to bathe in. They live in an abandoned village which was destroyed by rebels during the war and many of the houses don’t have roofs. It’s cold in the desert at night.
There are around 100 women there as well as the men, and some of them are pregnant and some have babies. When they give birth, they do it in the desert. There’s a hospital nearby over the border in Algeria, but they can’t cross the border. Some children were born there and know nothing other than Tinzawaten. The women who are left there have nothing, no belongings as they’ve lost everything.
It’s a lawless place and there’s no official authority. There are ghetto chiefs. They sometimes sell the women to the rebels in the area. There are cases of rape and killings, but they’re not investigated. No one goes there, not even aid agencies.
It’s very difficult to get out of Tinzawaten. The migrants can’t go anywhere and no country wants them. They just stay there, sometimes for years and years, living in limbo.