The government of Djibouti announced on Sunday that it is cracking down on irregular migration, with around 3,000 people being rounded up by police to be deported, according to state-run television.
Interior Minister Said Nouh Hassan said that the strategic Horn of Africa nation had become “saturated” by an influx of people from neighbouring countries, with 220,000 arriving “illegally” in 2022 alone.
Djibouti, with a population of around one million, lies on a migration route from Africa, which is often dangerous and perilous for people fleeing conflict and climate disasters or seeking a better life. Hassan said in a televised address that Djibouti had decided to take action to protect the “well-being and safety” of its population and control the flow of migrants into the country.
“The security forces were forced this Sunday… to carry out an emergency operation to combat crime and the trafficking of illicit goods observed in a certain sector of Djibouti city,” he said.
State-run television RTD reported that around 3,000 people had been detained in the operation and taken to deportation centres to be transported in trucks back to their country of origin. “These operations will continue throughout the territory,” Hassan said.
He said that irregular migrants who were employed in the informal sector could register and be provided with “circulation documents” on condition that their employers declared them to the local authorities.
For those without work, “we invite them to return immediately and voluntarily to their country of origin”, he said. He said there was a 30-day deadline for the irregular migrants to abide by the new rules.
According to AFP, Bilan, a jobless 45-year-old in Djibouti, said: “Illegal immigrants are like a time bomb in Djibouti, there are so many of them”. However, he declined to give his full name.