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EU-Driven Border Control in Niger: From Migrants to Gold, Drugs, and Rare Animals

By Hans Lucht

Cite As:
Lucht, Hans. 2022. “EU-Driven Border Control in Niger: From Migrants to Gold, Drugs, and Rare Animals.” Cultural Anthropology 37, no. 1: 16–22.


The Agadez province in northern Niger, a nucleus for trans-Saharan migration to Libya, has in recent years been at the forefront of Europe’s interventions to curb migration movements on the African continent. This essay discusses the transmutations of the cross-border economy in the wake of EU pressure and its implications for local lifeworlds. Trade and smuggling networks have shown resilience and adaptability in the face of the EU-driven crackdown on migration, but often at the cost of migrant safety. Border practices of the EU create situations where migrants are increasingly subject to predatory economic practices that consequently serve as necropolitical deterrence. At the same time, the cross-border economy is increasingly turning to other commodities to which Libya’s European partners are less sensitive, such as gold, synthetic opioids, and rare animals.


Niger; migration; border control; human smuggling; drugs