08 January 2013, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), GENEVA, Switzerland — IOM and The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) yesterday signed a two-year community stabilization project to support the livelihoods of the Chadian migrants who have returned from Libya and are currently living in three northern regions bordering Libya, Niger and Sudan.
The US$ 2.9 m Swiss contribution will support the socioeconomic reintegration of Chadian returnees from Libya. It will also strengthen social cohesion and dialogue between returnees and host communities and support the rehabilitation of existing infrastructures, including schools, medical facilities and cultural centres, community warehouses and cereal storage areas. Some 125,000 community members, including returnees, will directly benefit from this programme.
An IOM assessment carried out in March 2012 in 14 regions of Chad with the highest number of returnees found that most are in urgent need of socio-economic reintegration support to help them cope with the loss of income and the adaptation to a different lifestyle.
The assessment found that the majority were unable to meet their basic needs of food, housing, health and education and were struggling financially to provide for their families.
The three target regions in the remote northern Chad are particularly vulnerable as no international humanitarian agencies apart from IOM are currently present in the area. The regions are separated from the economic centres of Chad by the Sahel belt, which has been experiencing severe droughts since 2011.
In addition, the area is difficult to reach due to landmines which were left behind during the long civil wars.
In the first phase of the project, IOM will work in partnership with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to ensure access roads are clear of mines.
More than 130,000 Chadians are estimated to have returned to their country from Libya during and after the Libyan crisis in 2011. The majority had lived in Libya for many years and had little or no connections to their places of origin.
The SDC contribution is the first of its kind to fund a project which uses community infrastructure projects to facilitate a reintegration process.
“IOM is grateful to the Swiss government for the funds, which will go a long way towards providing much needed help to the returnees. Their plight did not end with their return and most still face numerous challenges,” says Qasim Sufi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Chad.