Livestock markets on the outskirts of the town of Agadez, in central Niger, used to be bustling every day. But business has plunged, since a law against activities linked to migration was implemented two years ago, depriving the local population of a major source of revenue.
Agadez used to be a major hub for African migrants traveling to Libya. But flows have allegedly fallen by 80% — as a result, thousands of people involved in the migrant smuggling business have lost their jobs.
The region has become one of the poorest in a country the United Nations ranked as one of the least developed in the world.
The European Union is being blamed for hurting the economic lifeline of towns like Agadez as it toughens migration policies in external borders.
Mohamed Mahattan, a camel herder, told Euronews’ correspondent Valerie Gauriat that a camel that was once valued at 500000 central African francs, nearly €800, is now less than 300000 central African francs or €500.
According to Mahattan, this situation stems from the anti-smuggling law.
Bachir Amma started an organisation that helps former smugglers.
"There are families left with nothing. We're eating up our savings. We use the money we made before to feed ourselves. It's very hard for us."
In the streets of Agadez, more and more children are seen begging for food.
The EU has pledged to provide Niger with one billion euros in development aid by 2020. But in the meantime, the population in Agadez is struggling to make ends meet and everyone believes that the main beneficiary of the money spent so far in Africa to address migration issues is the EU.