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The end of a dangerous road

Panorama have returned to West Africa to once again pick up the trail of migrants who are willing to risk everything for the chance of a new life in Europe.

Following on from my work in Destination Europe in September 2007 and Destination UK in January 2008, I have kept a travel log of the team's experiences.

Over the weeks leading up to our programme, scheduled for Monday, 14 September on BBC One, I will continue to blog about everything from the palpable emotion of a cave that was once used to process slaves being shipped to America, to the intrigue of introducing a group of small children to the myriad intricacies of satellite links, to the delicate negotiations of dangerous border crossings.

Niamey, Niger

This is where thousands of migrants converge every year before making their way to the sand city of Agadez and across the Sahara.

The road to Agadez requires a military escort. So, we decide to fly. First we film in the sweltering bus station. The migrants sleep on the dust, waiting for the five o'clock departure.


I want to travel with them, but we decide there is too great a risk of kidnap. Niger is where a British tourist was snatched last year, before being taken into Mali, sold onto a gang connected to al-Qaeda, and executed.

We meet a Niger businessman in the hotel. When I mention we are going to Agadez he says we must be mad. His view is shared by several others.

We phone Medicine Sans Frontiers, the voluntary medical aid charity, who have a representative there. He tells me the town is safe.

The rebels have come to an agreement with the government and there has been a ceasefire for some weeks.

But we are still concerned about kidnap. We spend an uncomfortable evening debating the dangers.

The fear comes and goes like the tide. At times the threat seems minimal. I'm raring to go.

Then, the confidence evaporates, and I'm left with dark images of being separated from the others and driven against my will across the desert. Then our fixer, the man we have been relying on in Niger, announces he can no longer make the journey to Agadez.

The BBC in London tells us to pull out, we can go no further.


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