Algeria ponders granting residency rights and job permits to illegal African migrants in its efforts to tackle a lack of workers in certain industries, such as agriculture and construction. This move draws on the previous launch of an anonymous online campaign that spurred racist sentiments in the country. The campaign shocked many Algerians, who see their country as a major player in the Sahel region and widely in Africa. Algeria for example helped negotiate a peace deal in Mali in 2015.
The anti-migrant campaign blamed the African migrants for stealing jobs and spreading the HIV virus. In June, the country also saw a widely shared hash-tag being used on social media – “No to Africans in Algeria”. It is estimated that there are about 100,000 African migrants in Algeria. To have an idea about the number of potential beneficiaries, the interior ministry is organizing a census while security services will be screening potential residency applicants.
“They will get a residency document which will allow them to get a job,” Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune said and added that “we won’t allow any NGO or individual to tarnish the image of our country.” Amnesty International also urged Algerian authorities to protect African migrants, who are often underpaid and work illegally. Most of African migrants come from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, fleeing from impoverishment and terrorism. For many, Algeria is also a transit country on their way to Europe via neighboring Libya.