A group of schoolgirls in Zinder, Niger | Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac
A group of schoolgirls in Zinder, Niger | Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

The UN agency for migration IOM has opened a new recreational center for minors in Niger to support families and help the reintegration of children returnees.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) officially opened the center in Matameye, in the Zinder region, last Friday. The Centre for the Prevention, Promotion and Protection of Children (CEPPP) will be managed by representatives from the Nigerien Ministry of Women Promotion and Child Protection (MPFPE), the organization said in a statement. 

Social workers at the center will work to support families and promote the reintegration of children that migrated and then came back home.

A key goal of the center is to raise awareness on the risks of migration, especially among minors.  

Center part of a project to assist returnees 

"We are very happy to have this center. Before we were sharing an office with other departmental services," said Abdoulaye, a social worker at the CEPPP. "We now have a dedicated center, where we can ensure the confidentiality of the interviews and services, while also welcoming beneficiaries in a child-friendly environment."

IOM said that the center was built and equipped through the project Assistance for Nigerien Returnees in Agadez and Zinder Regions (ANRAZ), funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The Nigerien government had previously asked for help to support local authorities in managing migration and protecting vulnerable persons, particularly children on the move.

Through the ANRAZ project, IOM organized several trainings in Niamey, Agadez and Zinder to support local authorities in dealing with migration management. According to IOM, the project has so far helped provide assistance to almost 13,000 Nigerien migrants returning from Algeria. In Zinder, the project has supported the establishment of 31 cooperatives comprised of returnees and vulnerable community members, IOM said. Through this initiative, 98 returned migrants and 156 members of their community have been trained in business management. 

Over 35,000 Nigeriens repatriated by Algeria since 2014 

Niger is considered an important migratory hub in western and central Africa - it is a country of origin, transit and destination for many vulnerable migrants. Since 2014, the start of the Algeria-Niger agreement, over 35,000 people have been repatriated to Niger, including nearly 27,000 from the Zinder region. 

The increased number of repatriations have put a lot of pressure on Nigerien authorities. In order to help them, IOM started the ANRAZ project in December 2017. The initiative will wrap up next month. 

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