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Influx of immigrants source of concern for Algeria

Tens of thousands of African immigrants are illegally residing in Algeria, as the government fears involvement within militant networks
Immigrants sit on the ground at a detention centre in the Libyan desert city of Kufra on 20 March (AFP)

Algeria has voiced concern that it will become the country known for attracting the highest illegal immigration in the region in the coming years, according to security reports.

The reports were based on the instability and chaos rocking the neighbouring country of Libya, which used to be the preferred destination for African migrant workers.

The Algerian government has faced a parliamentary inquiry on the official procedures to deal with the mass influx of immigrants. Thirty percent of the African immigrants had returned to their home countries after residing in Libya, before coming to Algeria. Many infiltrated their way into the country in search of jobs.

The immigrants come from a number of African countries, such as Guinea, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

The presence of African immigrants, some of who are trying to make their way across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, resulted in a backlash from Algerians and some sections of the media, who have accused them of spreading endemic diseases and of invading the streets.

The Algerian Red Crescent is taking care of more than 20,000 immigrants and refugees. Most of them live on the southern border with Mali, Niger, and Libya, while others have settled in the northern Algerian towns. The same security reports highlighted that the overall cost of the state to sponsor these immigrants would amount to no less than $100 million dollars.

Algeria fears that these immigrants are involved within the recruitment networks of religious militant hardliners. Algerian security forces had begun to interrogate African immigrants in the south of the country near the borders of Tunisia, who were suspected of being recruited into these networks in Tunisia and Libya.

This came after 44 immigrants were arrested in Algeria who were receiving paramilitary training.

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