Algeria to grant legal status to African migrants amid worker shortages, racism
Algeria plans to grant residency rights and job permits to illegal African migrants, responding to a shortage of workers in farming and construction while also seeking to combat a surge in racist sentiment.
Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune's plan follows the launch of an anonymous online campaign that blames African migrants - whose numbers are unofficially estimated at 100,000 - for taking jobs and spreading the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
Youth unemployment is running at around 30 percent in Algeria, but the country also faces a shortfall of workers in some sectors as it tries to steer its economy away from over-reliance on oil and gas production.
To determine the number of beneficiaries of the scheme, the interior ministry is organizing a census while security services will screen potential residency candidates.
"They will get a residency document which will allow them to get a job," Tebboune told lawmakers on Friday night. "We won't allow any NGO or individual to tarnish the image of our country."
He gave no further details on the scheme.
African migrants in Algeria are mostly from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and have come to escape acute poverty and terrorism back home. Some use Algeria as a transit country en route to Europe via neighboring Libya.
"That's great news, I will be happy if I can work under the framework of the law," said a young Malian working illegally in a housing project as a mason in Ouled Fayet, west of Algiers.