Three migrants die of thirst in Niger desert

Migrants crossing the Sahara desert into Libya ride on the back of a pick-up truck outside Agadez, in central Niger. (Reuters)
Updated 30 May 2019

Three migrants die of thirst in Niger desert

  • The group had got lost while searching for one of two wells on their itinerary and their vehicle broke down
  • Death from thirst or heat is a major peril for migrants seeking to cross the Sahara to reach Libya, which lies to the northeast of Niger

NIAMEY: Three migrants died of thirst when their vehicle broke down in the Nigerien desert while en route for Libya, the springboard for migration to Europe, a local official said.
“About 10” other passengers were saved after their vehicle was spotted by the Nigerien army, an official in the northern town of Agadez said.
The group had got lost while searching for one of two wells on their itinerary and their vehicle broke down, the source said.
“All three (fatalities) were Nigerien,” the official said.
Death from thirst or heat is a major peril for migrants seeking to cross the Sahara to reach Libya, which lies to the northeast of Niger.
Once in Libya, many try to cross the Mediterranean to southern Europe — a trip that itself is notoriously risky.
The army and the International Organization of Migration (IOM) say their desert patrols in Niger have saved thousands of lives over the past two years.
In some cases, the travelers’ bus or truck breaks down and in others, they are abandoned by their smugglers.
In the peak year of 2017, 150,000 crossed through the country — a figure that has fallen to between 5,000 and 10,000, according to a figure cited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a visit to Niamey in early May.
One factor behind the fall is application of a 2015 law which sets down jail terms of up to 30 years for traffickers.
One consequence, though, has been that smugglers are likelier to travel at night and on new or little-used roads, heightening the risk of a mishap, say experts.


Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

Updated 30 min 16 sec ago

Japan joins Malaysia in Olympics race to train 1,000 halal chefs for 2020 summer Games

  • Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry
  • The MFS partnership with Malaysia is expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games

KUALA LUMPUR: Olympics host Japan is going for gold in a race against time to train 1,000 chefs in halal food preparation for the summer 2020 Games.
With 5 million Muslim visitors from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia expected to descend on Tokyo for the sporting spectacular, which takes place between July and September, Japan has teamed up with Malaysia to introduce Muslim-friendly standards (MFS) for the Japanese food industry.
“Most Muslim tourists would want to try Japanese food,” said Keith Wong, CEO of Acrosx Malaysia, which has been appointed to the halal expert training committee of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to help develop halal versions of Japanese dishes.
Demand for halal Japanese food was booming and Wong told Arab News: “Tempura is popular among Middle Easterners and in South Asia, while ramen and unagi (eels) are popular among Muslims from Southeast Asia. Sashimi and sushi are very popular among all Muslims.”
He pointed out that MFS were needed because the number of halal restaurants in Japan was currently insufficient to cater for all visitor preferences during the Olympics.
The Japanese government has partnered with Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation to have more than 1,000 chefs trained in preparing halal food and become MFS-certified.
“We are aiming to train 500 restaurants for ‘Muslim-friendly’ certification for the Olympics,” Wong said, adding that MFS were even stricter than general halal standards.
Restaurants adopting MFS would be required to have a separate halal kitchen and provide different utensils for Muslim customers.
The Japanese chefs and restaurant operators taking part in the training will learn about the history of Islam, halal food storage and cooking methods.
The global halal industry is estimated to be worth around $2 trillion, and the Japanese see Muslim travelers as being more valuable than Chinese tourists, Wong said. “Chinese travelers to Japan would usually spend money on high-end, luxury goods. While Muslim travelers, with their friends and family, would spend money on food, lodgings and tourism.”
He noted that the MFS partnership with Malaysia was expected to extend beyond the 2020 Olympic Games.
“We will be aiming for the World Expo 2025 in Osaka,” he said, adding that Japan may become a global and high-quality player in the halal industry.