Coronavirus – Niger: IOM Appeals for Funding to Continue Lifesaving Assistance to Stranded Migrants Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Together with the ministries of Interior, Humanitarian Action, Health and Foreign Affairs in Niger, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 1,400 stranded Nigerien migrants after returning from Burkina Faso last weekend. They were mainly miners who fled violence last month in Burkina Faso’s southern district.

The Government of Niger agreed to open the border to facilitate this assisted voluntary return movement and requested IOM to support their nationals on a humanitarian site, managed by the Ministry of Humanitarian action, where they will complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

By repurposing existing funds, IOM Niger prepared a site on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Niamey. Over ten days, IOM erected over 500 shelters, built 40 latrines and showers and installed 30 handwashing stations. Solar lighting units were deployed for the 1,400-strong cohort. Other partners on the ground contributing to address critical gaps, include UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNHCR, and Luxembourg/Niger Red Cross.

Across Niger, IOM currently hosts close to 1,760 migrants in transit centres and has assisted 1,600 migrants stranded in the desert since the border closures. To avoid any COVID-19 outbreak, IOM also rented additional facilities and stepped up infection, control and prevention measures in its six transit centres, which now are at full capacity.

Nonetheless, inflation in the prices of many goods, and high levels of unforeseen costs – notably those generated by the quarantine such as shelter, hygiene and sanitation facilities, transport, and food and water supplies – jeopardize sustainable provision of assistance in the country. To meet the challenge, IOM is urgently appealing to the international donor community for additional aid.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to respond to the various demands for assistance. We need the support now more than ever,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.

IOM Niger is requesting USD 9,984,000 in line with IOM’s Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) to implement its Strategic Response Plan to support the Government of Niger.

“With this operation, IOM has shown us, once again, that it is reliable in time of need,” said the Minister of Interior of Niger, Mr. Mohamed Bazoum.

“However, while the borders remain closed, the Government of Niger is appealing to bordering states to receive their nationals stranded in Niger through a humanitarian corridor,” he continued. “This follows IOM’s assistance to the authorities in the Agadez region to strengthen quarantine measures for migrants who arrived in the last month,” the minister added.

“The Ministry of Humanitarian Action would like to thank IOM for its immediate and comprehensive support for the Nigeriens stranded in Burkina Faso following the closure of all borders in line with measures to contain the spread of COVID-19,” declared the Minister of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management, Mr. Magagi Laouan.

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