A new international development project is targeting 150,000 Chadian youths in 50 local communities- including 4,550 direct beneficiaries- to provide them vocational and business skills trainings to enable them launch income-generating activities.
The five million Euro project is being implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Northern Chad. It is expected that it will contribute to strengthening stability in the Borkou, Ennedi Ouest and Tibesti provinces.
IOM Chad Chief of Mission, Anne Schaefer, says the UN migration agency is currently ‘’the only UN agency active in the northern part of the country, where it works to support of the Chadian government’s efforts to reinforce opportunities for regional stability.
“By implementing this project, we hope to foster resilience and social cohesion, including between migrants and host communities.”
The project, “Balke – Security and Stabilisation Project in Northern Chad” is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will support marginalised communities and migrants—including vulnerable migrants stranded in the region—and enhance the capacities of local authorities to manage borders and mobility humanely.
The project also will partner with local radio stations and community members to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration, human trafficking and smuggling in a region where a growing number of migrants–including Chadians and third country nationals—have been observed in recent years.
The region is also a historical crossroad for Sahelian migration, especially towards Libya and in some cases, onwards to Europe. Between April and June 2020, IOM’s DTM observed more than 32,000 travellers at Flow Monitoring Points (FMPs) in Faya, Zouarké and Ounianga Kébir.
“Migration has long been one of the most effective coping mechanisms employed by populations in Chad to address threats to their human security and has traditionally been a means of ensuring livelihoods for Chad’s diverse people”, adds IOM’s Anne Schaefer.
The northern provinces of Borkou, Ennedi Ouest and Tibesti–located nearly 1,000 kilometres from N’Djamena, Chad’s capital city—are among Chad’s most fragile.
The region is vulnerable to insecurity, especially since the outbreak of conflict in neighbouring Libya in 2011, which deeply affected stability in the region and forced hundreds of thousands of Chadians residing in Libya to return to Chad.
A gold mining rush, which swept through the region in the early 2010s, has given rise to a new migration dynamic in the region, attracting an estimated 100,000 workers, including Chadians and third-country nationals who often work in inhuman conditions in artisanal gold mines.
Since 16 April, IOM as helped 636 people who escaped exploitation in the region. Included were local youths who had been introduced to illegal mines by established networks of smugglers and traffickers.
“Our goal, through this project, is to address the key drivers of instability in Northern Chad by supporting the government in efficiently managing its borders, and by creating spaces for dialogue between communities, civil society organisations, local and national authorities for safe migration management in the region”, Schaefer explains.
To improve humanitarian border management and human security along the vast Chad – Libya border, IOM will deploy—under the newly launched Migration Data Analysis System (MIDAS) project—IOM’s own border management system.
Border officials and key authorities will also be trained in the principles of humanitarian border management, including document verification as well as the identification and referral of potential victims of trafficking.
“The Balke project not only provides opportunities to generate income for local populations, but also supports their participation in decision-making processes, thus helping them shape their future by enhancing security and stability”, said Jakob Haselhuber, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chad.
“Germany remains committed to contributing to the promotion of peace and security through stabilisation efforts in Northern Chad and the wider Sahel region, together with our local and international partners.”