Niger – Migrants from over 15 countries in West and Central Africa have crossed Niger this year, en route to North Africa and Europe, according to an IOM Niger 2014 profiling report.*
IOM Niger published the report – the first of its kind – to promote a better understanding of contemporary migration trends in West Africa, particularly in Niger.
It provides a snapshot, based on an analysis of data collected from more than 2,000 testimonies of often stranded migrants transiting through IOM assistance centres in Niger from January through September 2014.According to the data collected in the IOM centres in Arlit on the Algerian border, and Dirkou on the Libyan border, West African migrants transiting through Niger are mostly young married men from Senegal, Gambia and Mali, who have left their countries to escape poverty.
Libya is still the most popular destination, together with Algeria. Many migrants consider both countries as possible routes to Europe.
During their journeys, most of the irregular migrants report having experienced abuse and threats from smugglers and the authorities. Confiscation of identity documents, forced drug use, and physical abuse are commonplace.
On returning from stays in Libya or Algeria, stranded migrants have provided detailed accounts of the conditions they faced during their journeys, reflecting the challenges and difficulties of irregular migration from West Africa to the Mediterranean and Europe.
The report highlights the need to strengthen the humanitarian response targeting the most vulnerable migrants, including trafficking victims, minors, women and the elderly. It also calls for the development of local strategies in communities of origin to improve migrants’ access to information and reinforce institutional capacities for humanitarian border management in Niger.
“This is a significant window on the conditions of migrants returning to Niger or through Niger to their countries of origin,” says the IOM Niger Chief of Mission Giuseppe Loprete. “It helps us to understand their problems and some of the dynamics behind their risky journeys, including extreme poverty, lack of opportunities and criminal smuggling networks.”
IOM Niger provides emergency and life-saving humanitarian assistance to migrants in transit in Niger’s main exit and entry points (Arlit, Dirkou, Agadez and Niamey). This includes registration, accommodation, food and medical care, psychosocial support, basic non-food relief items and voluntary return assistance to their countries of origin for both Niger and third country nationals.
Funding for the programme is provided by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the Italian Ministry of Interior and the UN Central Emergency Fund (CERF).