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IOM Launches First Reintegration Project for Niger Migrants Returning from Libya

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, January 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM Niger is launching its first reintegration project to help former migrant workers returning to Niger from Libya and the communities hosting them.

The project, which has received EUR 2.8 million from the European Union, will help to create income generating activities for some 3,125 direct beneficiaries and 12,000 indirect beneficiaries from 72 villages in the three regions of Tahoua, Tillabery, Zinder and in the capital, Niamey.

Each group of returnees will receive three days of training in an income-generating skill, such as setting up and managing a small enterprise, horticulture, woodwork, animal husbandry, or working as a mechanic.

The programme, which started earlier this month, will run through April 2013 and will be supervised by IOM. A local NGO, Nigetech, will conduct the training and develop a relevant business plan for each participant.

After completing the training, each beneficiary will receive EUR 500 in kind to implement their business plan. IOM will closely monitor the implementation to ensure the success and sustainability of each plan.

The project will also include larger projects designed to benefit communities with large numbers of returnees. An estimated 100,000 migrants returned to Niger from Libya following the violence which engulfed the country between February and November 2011.

The vast majority originally went to Libya to support their families in Niger through monthly remittances. While in Libya, they worked in mainly unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, particularly in agriculture and construction.

According to an IOM assessment conducted in 2011, most returnees arrived back with little or no money. Many are still struggling to fit into a society they left years or even decades before. The traumatic circumstances of their departure from Libya also left many struggling with psychological problems.

Niger, which is located in the Sahel region, has also been facing severe food shortages following long droughts and insecurity in the region, which has led to widespread disruption of agricultural activities.