Thousands trapped as IOM seeks urgent action over surge in Niger migrant transit centres
18 August 2023 | 10:35 pm
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has called for the establishment of an urgent humanitarian corridor out of Niger for stranded migrants to ease the overcrowding in its centres, where thousands of migrants are hosted, with many awaiting a safe return home. The recent border and airspace closures owing to sanctions meted on…
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has called for the establishment of an urgent humanitarian corridor out of Niger for stranded migrants to ease the overcrowding in its centres, where thousands of migrants are hosted, with many awaiting a safe return home.
The recent border and airspace closures owing to sanctions meted on the military leaders in Niger by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have compounded the challenges faced by stranded migrants and impeded IOM’s assisted voluntary return operations, with all flights either postponed or cancelled for the time being.
Concerns continue to grow as numbers of stranded migrants in need of assistance increase, with around 1,800 migrants awaiting assistance outside IOM transit centres while necessary capacity and resources diminish to host new migrants in the centres.
The Organisation is currently hosting around 5,000 migrants in seven transit centers strategically positioned along migration routes – four in the Agadez region and three in the Niamey region, where it provides urgent humanitarian assistance including accommodation, food, healthcare, and voluntary return to the countries of origin. At present, the capacity of these centres is overwhelmed with hundreds of migrants awaiting assistance outside.
In recent weeks since the aftermath of the July 26 coup, IOM has been unwavering in its support to host communities along migration routes in Niger via its Community Stabilization Programme in the Agadez region. This initiative bolsters economic resilience within communities, with a specific focus on women and youth, while also nurturing social cohesion between host and migrant communities.
At least 1,200 women have been provided with livelihood support to promote local craftsmanship, income-generating activities, and enhance their socio-economic empowerment. Additionally, medical equipment has been supplied to community health facilities in seven out of the 16 municipalities in the Agadez region to improve healthcare access for both host populations and migrants.
Niger holds a unique position as a country of origin, transit and destination for intra-regional migration movements. The 5,697-kilometer borders shared with six neighbouring states put the country at the centre of most migratory routes in the region.
In the first half of 2023, more than 60,000 migrants travelled through Niger, encompassing diverse profiles, including migrant workers and unaccompanied migrant children.
“IOM remains committed to providing essential services to migrants in its centres, however, the current extreme overcrowding raises the alarm over the health and safety of migrants and the Organization’s ability to deliver lifesaving assistance” the agency stated in a statement on Friday.
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