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Niger: Country Operation Update, April 2019

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2,782 Refugees evacuated temporarily from Libya to Niger as part of the ETM (Emergency Transit Mechanism) from November 2017 – April 2019

1,559 Persons profiled by UNHCR in Agadez seeking asylum

70,305 Persons internally displaced in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions

Operational Context

The key situations include:

  1. The Mali situation: began in 2012 with the outbreak of conflict in northern Mali. The regions of Tillaberi and Tahoua bordering Mali and hosting most of the Malian refugees are increasingly affected by insecurity and terrorism. A State of Emergency was declared in 2017, and extended and further expanded to areas bordering Burkina Faso at the end of 2018. There are currently 56,329 Malian refugees in Niger. The Government of Niger and UNHCR seek to accelerate the socio-economic integration of these refugees and the closure of the camps through urbanization by the end of 2020. An EU Trust Fund supported regional project as well as a GIZ supported project are supporting these efforts at local integration and development in Tillaberi and Tahoua regions.

  2. The Nigeria situation: began in 2013, with the arrival of the first Nigerian refugees across the border fleeing Boko Haram. The situation deteriorated with the first attacks on Niger territory in 2015. There are almost 250,000 displaced persons in the region (including 118,868 refugees, 104,288 IDPs, and 25,731 returnees). The majority live in spontaneous sites or with the local population, while UNHCR manages one refugee camp, with over 15,000 people. Since the beginning of 2019, the security situation has further deteriorated in the Diffa region, with secondary movements of around 20,000 people reported within the region at the end of the month of April. In 2018, despite a complex security context, all actors agreed on the need to engage strongly in development oriented interventions. The Government of Niger, UNHCR and the World Bank are working closely in that direction. Additionally, an EU Trust Fund supported project is ongoing in Diffa region, aimed at supporting economic recovery and long term solutions through urbanization and the construction of durable housing.

  3. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): The displaced population in the Diffa region is extremely mixed, including refugees, IDPs and returnees. However, since the beginning of 2018, the IDP situation in Niger has become more complex with increasing insecurity in the regions of Tillaberi and Tahoua, bordering Mali. In 2018, and into 2019, attacks and insecurity in the area have resulted in the internal displacement of at least 70,305 people. Protection monitoring, advocacy, capacity building and coordinated efforts with humanitarian actors and the Government of Niger are ongoing to ensure an adequate response to the situation. In December 2018, the Government of Niger adopted a national law for the assistance and protection of IDPs based on the Kampala Convention.

  4. Mixed Movements: Niger is a major crossroads of migratory movements northwards towards Libya, Algeria and the Mediterranean. These migratory flows constitute mixed movements, including economic migrants as well as persons in need of international protection. In Agadez, UNHCR works to identify asylum seekers within the migratory flows and works with the government, as well as IOM and NGOs, to provide these persons with information and assistance. 1,559 persons, mostly Sudanese, are currently registered by UNHCR in Agadez. 22.5% are minors and 125 are unaccompanied or separated children. The majority are seeking asylum in Niger. The situation has become more complex, with the addition of downward movements from Libya and Algeria. A new Humanitarian Centre was built to accommodate and screen those seeking international protection in the second half of 2018. Over 1,300 asylum seekers are now accommodated at the centre, while the most vulnerable (about 200 people) are supported in 3 guesthouses in the city of Agadez.

  5. Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM): This unique programme aims to provide life-saving protection, assistance and long-term solutions to extremely vulnerable refugees trapped in detention in Libya, through temporary evacuation to Niger. The aim is to deliver protection and identify durable solutions, including resettlement for these refugees, who are predominantly Eritrean and Somalian. Their profiles mainly include survivors of torture or other forms of violence in the country of origin and/or transit countries (e.g.
    Libya) and others with compelling protection needs. Many of them are unaccompanied children and women and girls at risk. To date, 2,782 persons have been evacuated to Niger – 1,521 of whom are still in Niamey while the others have already been resettled. With the support of the EU Trust Fund, a new transit centre is being built near Niamey to host the evacuees while they await resettlement to third countries. The first group of evacuated refugees were transferred there on the 4th of March 2019; by the end of April, more than 600 refugees had been transferred to the centre.