At French Outpost in African Migrant Hub, Asylum for a Select Few

Bénédicte Jeannerod, who heads the French office of Human Rights Watch, was less a critic of the program itself than of its scale. “I’ve told Pascal Brice that as long as it works, make it bigger,” he said.

But the potential difficulties of making the program larger were evident in a day of interviews at the sweltering United Nations center in Niamey.

One recent Saturday night, 136 Eritreans and Somalis were flown to Niamey by the United Nations, all potential candidates for asylum interviews with the French.

The dozens of asylum seekers already there waited pensively, looking resigned as they sat on benches, betraying no sign of the import of what the French deputy chief of the mission had to offer.

“If you are chosen, you will soon be in…

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