Flame burns between Niamey and Algiers

An unprecedented event in the annals of Algerian-Nigerian relations. Yesterday, Wednesday 3 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Nigerians Abroad summoned the Algerian ambassador to Niamey for a matter of extreme importance.
Imagen del embajador argelino en Níger
Image of the Algerian ambassador to Niger

Benkhedda Mehdi, Algerian ambassador in Niamey, was not expecting to be summoned by the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain an extremely sensitive and important matter: the massive return of Nigerian nationals to their country of origin "in disregard of the rules and the cost to the physical integrity and security of the property of Nigerian nationals living in Algeria", according to a statement from the same ministry on its Facebook page.  

The Algerian diplomatic representative, who was received by "the deputy secretary general of the said ministry on behalf of the minister who was unable to attend", as indicated in the same statement, had the worst quarter of an hour of his career, as can be seen from the images broadcast on Nigerian television. He had no explanation to offer on such a sensitive issue.  

The same television channel broadcast testimonies of Nigerian citizens who were sent back en masse on board trucks in conditions that were inhumane to say the least and which do no credit at all to Algeria, which has always advocated fraternity and friendship with its neighbours. 

Witnesses recounted the ordeal of travelling several kilometres, many of them on foot under the sun and the most hostile desert, until they reached Nigerian villages where they found help and assistance. 

Niger's Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that "these forced displacements do not only affect Nigerien nationals, but also other sub-Saharan nationalities. And this has been going on for several years". 

And yet the Algerian president continues to talk about Algerian mediation in Niger and a six-point plan to help resolve the political crisis in Niger. The mediation will be postponed indefinitely, pending Algiers' reaction to the summoning of its ambassador.