West African migrants got help to return home

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After a journey lasting six days and covering 2,985 km, a convoy of three buses transporting 137 migrants from Niamey, Niger, arrived in Dakar, Senegal earlier this week. The migrants were from Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Guinea Bissau.

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The migrants from the Cote d’Ivoire, continued with their journey home from routes from Bobo Diolasso and those from Gambia and Guinea Bissau proceeded from Kaolack.

Since August 2016, a total of over 1,000 migrants have departed from Niger in five convoys. This latest convoy follows one last week that saw 250 migrants travel 900 km and 20 hours from Agadez to Niamey, Niger, before also proceeding to their countries of origin.

In this week’s convoy, the most vulnerable migrants in the group stayed behind in Niamey until their situation was determined, while others proceeded back to their countries of origin by plane.

As a transit country for migrants, Niger represents a crossroad for people trying to reach Libya, Algeria or Europe, through transit points such as Arlit or Dirkou.

Most of the migrants became stranded on their way north, without any means to continue their journey or return to their countries of origin. Many have spent weeks in Agadez trying to find money to either continue their journey or return home.

“When migrants find themselves in critical situations, they often turn to IOM for help,” said Giuseppe Loprete, IOM Niger Chief of Mission. “Our main challenge is to find durable solutions and support reintegration in their countries of origin,” he added.

At IOM’s transit centres, migrants are offered assisted voluntary return and reintegration if they choose to return to their countries of origin.

The reintegration process starts once they reach IOM’s transit centre. They are assessed based on their skills, their vulnerabilities and what plans they may have for their reintegration back home. Once home, with IOM’s support, they can move one step closer to reintegration by finding a source of income.

The operation is funded by the European Union as part of IOM’s “Migration Resource and Response Mechanism” project.

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