In November 2017, UNHCR established an Emergency Evacuation Transit Mechanism (ETM) for the evacuation of vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers from detention in Libya to Niger.
The programme was established in order to facilitate the processing of refugees and asylum-seekers trapped in detention and to ensure access to protection and to durable solutions.
UNHCR and the Government of Niger signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December 2017, temporarily expanding the Niger asylum space to these refugees and asylum seekers. The MoU was extended in February 2020 for another two years.
The first evacuation flight took place in November 2017.
Since then, 26 additional evacuation flights have arrived in Niger from Libya, carrying a total of 3,208 refugees and asylum-seekers.
The aim of the ETM is to identify durable solutions such as resettlement and other complementary legal pathways with the financial support of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).
In this video Tekla, a young refugee from Eritrea evacuated in Niger, reveals how the ETM programme helped him and many others to find security and be able to achieve their goals.
Process and living conditions in Niger
Once the refugees and asylum-seekers arrive in Niger, UNHCR conducts a verification interview and registers them biometrically. This is followed by refugee status determination (RSD) procedures by the Government of Niger and UNHCR. Finally, interviews to prepare resettlement files are completed by UNHCR. These files are then submitted to third countries for consideration. For unaccompanied children, a Best Interests Determination (BID) is completed to seek the most appropriate solution.
UNHCR and partners provide accommodation at the ETM transit facility in Hamdallaye, in the Tillaberi region. Located 40 km from Niamey, food, medical care, education and psychosocial support are provided.
The facility can host a maximum capacity of 1,500 persons.
Further construction and development ongoing. Three guest houses, located in Niamey, host particularly vulnerable cases, such as persons who require medical follow-ups, those in the advanced stages of pregnancy or mothers with new-born babies.
Empowerment & Philosophy of Care
Vocational and educational training programmes were launched in 2019 with UNHCR’s partner INTERSOS, targeting 45 unaccompanied minors (30 in mechanics, 15 in hairdressing).
Since February 2020, the ETM team is piloting the use of cash for food in 28 households who have specific dietary needs in guesthouses, and in Hamdallaye through mobile money. This pilot project is being evaluated and may be expanded to the whole population.
In order to respond to the psychological and physical needs of refugees and asylum-seekers, UNHCR is developing a Philosophy of Care approach through psycho-social support, mental health support, sport and recreational activities (traditional dance classes, music and singing sessions, theatre workshops, etc).
These activities help refugees and asylum-seekers to cope better and resume their normal lives in dignity.
Sports facilities, which include a soccer pitch, basketball and handball courts were generously donated by the AC Milan Foundation.
As of 1 June 2020, a total of 2,454 evacuated refugees have departed from Niger to resettlement countries, among them 382 minors. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resettlement flights have been suspended since March. In total, UNHCR has received 1,530 confirmed pledges for resettlement from Niger in 2020, out of which 1,030 are for ETM and 500 for non-ETM.
- Date de publication
- 4 août 2020
- Region and Country
- Improved migration management
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees