UN Migration Agency in Chad Appeals for Funding to Assist Stranded Migrants
Date Published: 07/06/2018
N’Djamena – Last Sunday (01/07), 20 Sub-Saharan migrants, including eight potential victims of trafficking, were reportedly stranded in Faya, in Northern Chad. The town of Faya is located on one of the main migration routes in Northern Chad, where the Chadian authorities have repeatedly identified and referred victims of trafficking (VoTs) to IOM, the UN Migration Agency.
IOM in Chad is actively working with the government to bring these vulnerable migrants to N’Djamena for screening and assistance, but resources are needed to ensure that the appropriate medical, psycho-social and voluntary return assistance is provided.
“We know of 395 migrants throughout the three northernmost regions between Niger and Sudan bordering Libya, and of over hundred migrants stranded in N’Djamena, 45 of whom have been counselled and are ready to return to their countries of origin, financial support permitting,” said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chief of Mission in Chad. “Migrants are also stranded in and around the Lake Chad area, after they fled the Boko Haram violence from Nigeria. They are now blocked in IDP sites in the lake region. While IOM Chad is ready to support them, our means and resources are extremely limited and we cannot cope with the increasing demands for humanitarian assistance.”
IOM is appealing for at least USD 2.1 million to meet the urgent needs of the migrants stranded and transiting through Chad over the next 24 months. This funding will be directed towards:
Search and Rescue operations in Chad’s northern regions which border Niger and Libya, and where traffickers and smugglers are increasingly moving away from the known migration routes to avoid security controls, thereby exposing migrants to life-threatening conditions;
Assisted Voluntary Return of stranded migrants in Chad, including land and air transport to countries of origin;
Setting up a migrant reception centre in Faya and a transit centre in N’Djamena where medical, psychosocial, food, shade and water assistance can be provided to migrants;
An information campaign on the risks and dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking.
The flow of migrants through Chad has increased the pressure on local actors and international agencies like IOM, which do not have the adequate means to efficiently manage migration flows towards North Africa and provide much needed humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people along migration routes.
“I just want to go home. My mother passed away while I was away and since then, I have not heard back from my family,” said Angèle*, one of the 20 migrants stranded in Faya who were referred to IOM for assistance. Angèle left Cameroon in 2013 with her husband and her two-year-old son. They travelled through Nigeria and Niger to finally reach Libya from where they hoped to cross the Mediterranean and enter Italy for a chance at a better life. In Tripoli, Angèle’s husband worked as a builder to make some money for their crossing. When he had saved enough for his journey, he left for Italy, promising to come back for Angèle and their son. She waited for two years without news. Hopeless, she contacted a fellow Cameroonian in Kufra who helped her get on a bus to Chad. “We drove through the desert for five days before reaching Faya. I sold all my expensive things to survive.” Eventually, she found acquaintances who helped her get to N’Djamena. Today, she and her seven-year-old son are hoping to receive voluntary return assistance from IOM.
Armand* left Cameroon in 2016 hoping to get to Libya and to cross to Italy. “On my first day in Libya, they put me in jail. They asked me to pay 450 000 CFA (USD 800) to be released but I had already paid 185 000 CFA (USD 330) from Cameroon to Niger and 300 000 CFA (USD 530) from Niger to Libya,” said Armand. He tried to cross the Mediterranean twice. “The second time we went on the boat, 72 people died,” Armand added. That’s when he decided to go home. He returned by bus from Libya through the desert until he reached Faya. In Faya, he sought help to return to his native Cameroon from a public transporter, who directed him to IOM.
With funding from the EU Trust Fund for Africa, three Flow Monitoring Points (FMP) were put in place by IOM teams in Zouarke, Kalait and Faya to monitor the movement of migrants through Chad – an average of 428 movements per day. The Tibesti Region in northern Chad, at the border with Libya, in particular continues to attract sub-Saharan workers due to the presence of gold mines throughout the border triangle area in Niger, Libya and Chad, considered by some people as an opportunity to make some money before continuing their journey to Libya. Victims of trafficking were reported by the local authorities who indicated that some of the people transported by traffickers were forced to work in the mines to fully reimburse transportation and “placement” fees.
Last April, 56 Chadians – including 17 unaccompanied children – were rescued from traffickers by police forces at the Libyan border and assisted by IOM. IOM Chad provided emergency assistance with the financial support of the US Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) but additional funds have to be mobilized to ensure that migrants in Chad are provided with adequate assistance, including psychosocial counselling and voluntary return assistance.
*Names have been changed.
This news item has first been published on iom.int here.
For more information please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Tel: +235 60281778, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michele Bombassei at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: email@example.com