Niger is situated in a geopolitically sensitive area linking the Sahara Desert with the Sahel, and West with Central Africa. The country has become a major hub for mixed movements northwards to Libya, Algeria and the Mediterranean while at the same time witnessing an increasing number of people fleeing Libya or being deported from Algeria on Nigerien territory. In response to the complex humanitarian and security situation in Libya, Niger is increasingly turning into an alternative space for protection, including for the asylum-seekers and refugees who fail to reach Europe. UNHCR works with the Government in order to find solutions that enable refugees to live their lives in dignity and peace. They can include voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration.
Owing to the role of Niger as a transit country, the UNHCR Niger operation has opened a new office in Agadez in 2017, scaling up its operational capacity to give a response to those in need of international protection within mixed migratory flows.
UNHCR’s main objective is to ensure that people in need of international protection have access to asylum.
Therefore, UNHCR invests in the structural strengthening of the Nigerien asylum system. Moreover, UNHCR gives assistance to people under its mandate and aims to find durable solutions, such as resettlement, local integration or voluntary return to the country of origin if the security conditions allow. Complementary legal pathways, such as family reunification, study visa or humanitarian evacuations are also examined.
In Agadez, UNHCR has continuously invested in strengthening the national Refugee Status Determination (RSD) system through financial and human support, so to enhance its technical capacity to conduct RSD effectively and efficiently.
UNHCR is working closely with the regional authorities to strengthen the protection of refugees and asylum seekers, who have continued to increase in number since the end of 2017. As of 30 June 2020, 1,064 people, mainly Sudanese nationals, have been identified as in need of international protection, and registered by UNHCR in Agadez. Of these people, over 11% has been previously biometrically registered by UNHCR in another country or disposes of refugee cards issued in other countries, mainly Chad. 2% are unaccompanied and separated children (UASCs), some have reportedly been the victim of exploitation, torture and human trafficking, after escaping war in Sudan (22% have specific needs). The most vulnerable are hosted in 3 guesthouses in Agadez by UNHCR where they receive immediate protection and assistance, while the majority are hosted in a Humanitarian Centre built in the outskirts of Agadez on a 5ha site managed by UNHCR and partners. With the dire human rights situation in Libya, it is possible that the number of persons of concern reaching Agadez may continue to increase.
Philosophy of Care Given the severe trauma that most of the asylum seekers in Agadez have suffered, psychosocial and psychological support is of paramount importance. Many of those asylum seekers have suffered torture, sexual violences and slavery whilst in their country of origin and/or in Libya. In order to respond adequately, UNHCR works mainly with partners APBE, COOPI, INTERSOS and MEDU to provide specialized services (primary health care, psychosocial support, SGBV and Child Protection services, including education….).
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees