A migrant holds a container of water wrapped with a wet sack  as he sits at the back of a truck at a local immigration transit centre in the desert town of Agadez, Niger May 25, 2015.   REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Gambian migrants among those left to die in Sahara desert

A handful of Gambians were among dozens of migrants that died in the Sahara desert in route to Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.

At least 52 people have reportedly died on their way to Libya from Agadez when they were deserted in the Sahara by traffickers.

Only 23 people survived, according to the IOM, including just one 22-year old woman from Nigeria.

“Among the 23 survivors are migrants from Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. It was not clear for how long they had been walking in the deserts of central Niger.

“They had been in a group of 75 migrants in three different cars, eventually abandoned by smugglers during the journey north,” said Giuseppe Loprete.

The IOM had started a rescue mission between Agadez in Niger and Libya since April. It is expected to last for a year.

The organization has helped some 340 Gambians return to Banjul since April and says the number of Gambian arrivals has lowered this year.

At least 86 Gambians have died while attempting to reach Europe since last year.

A Gambian man attempting to reach Europe, Lamin Darboe has died in a congested Libyan prison ran by militiamen in June.

526 Gambians have been so far reported to be held in prisons across Libya, some of them not operated by Libya’s rival governments.

Activists say Gambian migrants journeying through the Sahara to cross the Mediterranean into Europe risk being kidnapped for ransom.

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