Wednesday, September 07, 2011

"In Libya You Face Bombs, But in Niger You Face Death"

NIGER-LIBYA: “In Libya you face bombs, but in Niger you face death”

AGADEZ, 19 May 2011 (IRIN) - Migrants who have fled the conflict in Libya to return to Niger say they are having to beg, steal, or sell off remaining animals or plots of land to survive, so as not to burden their already impoverished families, most of whom are struggling with food insecurity.

Some 66,200 Nigeriens have returned to Niger from Libya since the end of February, most arriving in the northeastern town of Dirkou, from where they find transport to take them to villages and towns around the country, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The majority were involved in agricultural work in Libya, for which they earned up to US$216 (100,000 CFA) per month.

Returnee, Mohamed Lamine, told IRIN: “It was with huge regret that I left Libya. I can’t stand having to rely on my aging parents to survive. I will return as soon as possible.”

Now most of them are jobless and many are in debt, having paid inflated transport costs for the roughly three-week journey across the desert, and high administrative costs to enter the country, according to an inter-agency assessment of two departments in south-central Zinder Province, by the government, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and NGO Care International.

“Thousands and thousands of men have left to return to unemployment in Niger. We have no choice but to beg in the streets or to steal,” Abdelkadre Moussa, a returnee in Agadez in the centre of the country, told IRIN. “In Libya you face bombs, but in Niger you face death.”

Most of the migrants originally came from southern Niger, including the Tahoua, Zinder, Tillabéry and Maradi regions, all of which have suffered food insecurity following the drought that severely diminished harvests in 2009 and 2010, according to the assessment.

CHAD: The Libya fallout

DAKAR, 29 June 2011 (IRIN) - Chadian families are facing worsening food insecurity, becoming more indebted, and selling off personal possessions as they try to cope with the loss of remittances from relatives who have returned home from Libya.

Remittances, which half of the households in Chad's western and southwestern regions of Kanem and Bahr el Ghazal used to receive, are down by 57 percent, according to a survey by NGOs Oxfam and Action Against Hunger (ACF). Households on average were sent US$220 per month.

Most families in the two regions have reduced the number of meals they eat; 70 percent are eating less nutritious foods, while just under a third are resorting to wild foods such as leaves and berries.

One in five households interviewed had sold possessions to raise money; while most said they had taken out loans to get by.

At the same time, families are struggling to feed returning members: Some 43,000 migrants have returned in trucks from Libya to Chad over the past three months, according to Craig Murphy, operations officer at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In Bahr el Ghazal family size has increased by as many as 13 people, according to the Oxfam/ACF survey.

"These people are going home to zones which already experience food insecurity even when there is no `crisis', said Philippe Conraud, head of humanitarian operations at Oxfam in West Africa. "They need food, water - the basics, to get by."

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