Today, migration is the main industry. Drivers, smugglers, money changers, sex workers, police officers — everyone lives off the men on the move. It is a city of dreams, both budding and broken. It is where the journey across the desert begins for so many young West African men, and it is where the journey ends, when they fail.
The smugglers’ den where I found Mr. Bokoum, the 21-year-old from Mali, was a set of two adjoining courtyards, with two concrete-floored rooms. Upside-down jerrycans served as stools, plastic mats as sofas.
He had been in Agadez for three months, waiting for his mother to send him money. It can cost 350,000 CFAs — about $600 — to get from Agadez to the Libyan border, on the back of a pickup truck.
The smugglers had also started out as migrants, and most of them worked for a while in Libya. Now, they make money off other men’s journeys. None would hint at how much.
Mohamed Diallo, a Senegalese manager of the compound, blamed Western countries for spewing carbon into the atmosphere, and he was skeptical of their leaders’ promises to curb emissions….”