NIAMEY - This cross-border investigation focuses on the impact of the Anti-smuggling-Law 036-2015, introduced in Niger in response to the so-called “European refugee crisis.” 

Niger, labeled a “migration champion” by EU officials, was given more than €1,3bn between 2014-2020 in humanitarian aid and development aid. Under this and as part of the “European Trust Fund for Africa”, €54m was allocated to migration management. Despite this huge cash injection, no one can say how many people have died on the new clandestine desert routes which appeared after the law’s introduction. Some estimate it could be deadlier than the Mediterranean.

A team of journalists traveled to the desert town of Agadez, Niger to see the law’s impact on the ground and if it can truly “save lives.”

Research suggests this law – backed by the EU – has led to more dangerous routes and an uncounted death toll in the desert. Hundreds of millions of euros of EU taxpayer’s money spent on Niger has been touted as a success by Brussels, who appear keen to replicate the Nigerian model - but what remains is a desert full of secrets and missing people.

The testimonies of migrants and former and current drivers have been combined with a year-long OSINT research of the investigative platform Border Forensics.

Team members

Katy Fallon

Katy Fallon is a freelance journalist currently based in Athens, Greece.

Katy Fallon

Franziska Grillmeier

Franziska Grillmeier is a freelance journalist currently based in Greece.

Franziska Grillmeier

Vincent Haiges

Vincent Haiges is a photographer based in Berlin.

Vincent Haiges
€15.700 allocated on 02/12/2022.



  • Wo Europas südlichste Grenze beginnt, WOZ, 15/06/2023.
  • Migranti scomparsi tra le sabbie del deserto, Internazionale, 29/06/2023.

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.