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Chadian Returnees from Libya Need Reintegration Support: IOM

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, March 30, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An IOM assessment of the conditions of Chadian migrants who returned from Libya has found that most are in urgent need of reintegration support in their communities. The study also found the returnees are struggling financially to provide for themselves and their families.

The assessment, which was carried out between January and March 2012 in the 14 regions of Chad with the highest number of returnees, interviewed 1,000 returnees.

Many said they faced daily challenges living in host communities because of language, lack of work and lack of basic services. A majority said that they were unable to meet their basic needs for food, housing, health and education.

Many of the estimated 90,000 Chadian returnees had lived in Libya for many years and had little or no connection to their places of origin. Children and adults born in Libya were unable to communicate in French or in the Chadian dialect of Arabic, making it difficult for them to attend schools or socially integrate.

The assessment has also found that heads of families in this patriarchal society were suffering from high levels of stress, due to their reduced ability to provide for their families.

According to the study, the arrival of the returnees has exacerbated the vulnerability of their host communities - many of which were already suffering from severe drought that Chad and the Sahel region have experienced since 2011.

The current food shortages in many parts of the Sahel region mean that the returnees have no food stock to rely on. Finding employment outside the traditional agricultural sector is extremely difficult in rural areas, resulting in many heads of households seeking employment in urban centres.

According to profiling of Chadian returnees carried out by IOM since the onset of the Libyan crisis in March 2011, the majority have only had limited formal education. While in Libya, some of the returnees acquired low level skills, mainly in the construction sector or in driving specialized vehicles like tractors. There is little demand for these skills in rural Chad.

Since their return, only a small number of them have found steady jobs. Most have had to resort to petty trade such as selling cigarettes and sweet tea. In some rural areas, returnees have set up parallel markets known as 'Libya Markets,' where they sell goods that they brought back with them, in order to feed their families. In some places this has led to conflicts with existing markets and local traders.

IOM, with funding from the German Government, is currently providing psychosocial care to some Chadian returnees. A second, one-year project providing social reintegration assistance will begin in May. But given the acute problems faced by the returnees, particularly in rural areas, more support to create livelihoods is urgently needed.