More than 80 African migrants have been rescued after being found in a remote stretch of the Sahara Desert after they were robbed and left to die by people they had paid to smuggle them to Libya, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.
An IOM rescue team found four abandoned trucks carrying migrants from Nigeria, Togo, Mali and Ghana, left dehydrated, injured and in need of medical assistance.
One of the migrants, aged 25, said that the group had been stranded for three days without food or water.
He went on to tell IOM, “people were collapsing left and right. I started crying when I saw the cars approaching, hoping help was coming.”
Reportedly the drivers abandoned the migrants after spotting military vehicles.
A spokesman, Paul Dillon, stated “sometimes smugglers return without their passengers. It’s not a rare event… It’s very troubling this disregard for human life.”
Since 2016, more than 1,870 migrants have been rescued through operations in Niger’s desert – one of the most perilous parts of the journey for West Africans risking their lives to seek jobs in Europe.
But sometimes rescue groups just find remains after being deserted by smugglers.
However, the 83 migrants have been transferred to a COVID-19 confinement site where they are receiving food, water and medical care.