95 Malians, including 72 women and children, returned home from Chad, with assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The group returned home on June 1 on a special flight chartered as part of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme.
Among those who benefitted from the AVR assistance were people who had left Mali hoping to reach to Europe but ended up stranded in Chad, and others whose livelihoods have been pushed into socioeconomic precarity as a result of COVID-19.
Chad is an important hub for African migration attracting hundreds of thousands of people from across the continent.
In the north particularly, thousands of migrants travel to work in artisanal gold mines or cross the borders, either into Libya with the hope of going to Europe, or to return from Libya to escape traumatic experiences.
Between August 2019 and September 2020, over 9,700 migrants crossing to Libya from Chad were observed at Flow Monitoring Points (FMPs) in the north, according to a recent report by IOM. During the same period, some 11,700 others were observed going from Libya into Chad.
“These migration journeys can be very risky as the routes are not always safe and migrants are vulnerable to abuse, including labour and sexual exploitation,” Jean-Claude Bashirahishize, Programme Manager for Migrant Assistance and Protection with IOM Chad said.
The charter flight was made possible through the Regional Development and Protection Programme in North Africa (RDPP-NA), a flagship programme implemented in North Africa to enhance the protection of vulnerable migrants, and provide immediate as well as direct assistance such as voluntary return and reintegration.
Since its launch in 2019, the programme has helped more than 300 migrants stranded in Chad safely return home to over nine countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
Upon their return, eligible migrants can receive reintegration assistance which can include psychosocial counselling, skills training, referral, or in-kind assistance to set-up individual, collective or community-based socio-economic projects.