Sunday, 03 April 2016

The “Arab Spring” revolutions and the current regional security situation have combined to turn Algeria into a temporary home for some 30,000 refugees from Syria, Libya and Mali.

Bin Olwi Mohy el-Din, a member of the African Association for Care of Refugees Affairs, an NGO, told Anadolu Agency that the association had counted more than 30,000 refugees in Algeria from the three countries, “most of whom fled their countries because of civil war”.

Half of the refugees are from Mali.

Algerian authorities have laid out a plan to meet refugees’ needs without forcing them into camps and allowing their children to enter the local school system, according to Mohy el-Din.

For his part, Addas Khalifa, a Syrian national and a member of the Syrian Refugees League in Northern African Countries, told Anadolu Agency that the number of Syrian refugees in Algeria changes “from one month to the next”.

He put the number of Syrian refugees in the country at 7,000, citing statistics issued by the Algerian authorities in April of last year.

Khalifa asserted that Syrians had been welcomed in Algeria without a visa until 2015, when Algeria began requiring visas due to developments in the war-torn country.

“The special circumstances in Syria forced the Algerian authorities to do security checks on incoming refugees to ensure that no extremists are among them,” Khalifa said.

Syrian refugees currently reside in 22 Algerian cities. The majority of them live in big cities, such as Annaba, Oran and capital Algiers, according to Khalifa.

Ghawati Abdul Basit, a member of a relief committee established to take care of refugees from Mali, said the official number of refugees from Mali is “not accurate”.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Abdul Basit said: “I think the number of refugees who fled Mali, Syria and Libya may exceed 50,000 or 60,000. There are thousands who fled the war in northern Mali between 2012 and 2013 [after the French military intervention] who the authorities could not register officially because they snuck through the borders.”

Karwi Khaled, a Libyan businessman and a representative of the Libyan community in Algeria, said that “during the civil war in Libya following the revolution in 2011, at least 5,000 Libyans sought refuge in Algeria, most of whom have relatives in Algeria”.

For her part, Saeeda Bin Heblis, head of the Algerian Red Crescent, told reporters on Thursday that her country will not deport refugees until stability is restored in their home countries.

Source: Middle East Monitor.