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Algeria wants EU help in illegal migrant fight

Algeria said on 9 Oct. it was stepping up efforts to fight illegal immigration, but that it wants the EU's help in doing so. The country is used as a transit area for illegal migrants en route to Europe.

In the first six months this year, police arrested more than 3,000 migrants attempting to sneak through Algeria's vast desert expanses to Morocco on their way to Spain, up from over 2,500 a year ago, paramilitary police Gendarmerie Nationale spokesman Abdurahmane Ayoub said.

"We've noticed an increase of illegal migrants crossing our borders. It is a serious problem. Algeria is a transit country, and Europe should help us in tackling the problem," he told Reuters.

Most of the migrants into Algeria arrived from sub-Sahara African countries, mainly from neighbouring Niger and Mali.

"But we have also arrested 88 migrants from India and 41 from Pakistan during the first half of this year," he added.

Morocco, itself under pressure from Spain and the European Union to stem waves of illegal migrants, has called on the bloc to put pressure on Algiers to stop the flow of migrants crossing from its territory.

"If the EU continues to ignore the origin of African expatriates and especially the country of transit Algeria, then this problem of immigration will not be solved," said Menouar Alem, Moroccan ambassador to the EU.

Eleven people have been killed in recent days as large groups of migrants tried to reach Europe by crossing razor wire fences between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.