Jean Rene stands proudly in front of his new accommodations in the Hamdallaye commune

In November 2017, the State of Niger and UNHCR established an Emergency Evacuation Transit Mechanism (ETM) to enable vulnerable refugees detained in Libya to receive asylum in Niger. The affected refugee populations were transferred to the ETM transit center in the municipality of Hamdallaye, Tillabéri region (40km from Niamey). In Niger, the project to accommodate the evacuees consisted of constructing 80 blocks made up of 2 houses each at the ETM reception center in the Hamdallaye commune.

The refugees housed in the commune also comprise refugees who have fled their countries for various reasons including insecurity and persecution.

The Government of Niger supported by UNHCR and its partners provide the residents of the Hamdallaye commune with dignified transitional accommodation and other legal protection services.

The original transitional housing units constructed in 2017 in the commune were discovered to be unsuitable to the climate of the environment and were also prone to catching fires. To overcome these challenges and ensure that the refugees felt safe and secure, UNHCR mobilised emergency funds for the construction of the 80 blocks of permanent houses including sanitation and hygiene facilities. This project was implemented by AIRD within the framework of its partnership with the UNHCR.

The ETM center currently houses around 451 migrants and 80 refugees of Eritrean, Chadian, Somali, Cameroonian, Congolese (DRC), Syrian, Egyptian, Sudanese, South Sudanese, Yemeni, Nigerian, Ethiopian and Bengali nationalities fleeing due to civil wars and persecution.

One of the requirements of the project implementation was the involvement of the refugees (direct beneficiaries), as well as the young people of the host community of the host village of Béri Koïra. They were able to work alongside the construction crew in building the units while earning incomes. Refugees and local community residents provided labour for masonry work. They were recruited and trained under Good Neighbours (a UNHCR partner NGO) to support in the production of doors, windows and metal frames.

“I received my house with a real sigh of relief. Before, we lived in the Refugee Housing Unit. The accommodation conditions were not favourable at all. The RHUs couldn’t stand the cold or the heat. Everything was to the extreme. We were exposed to fires and risks of all kinds. But with the new solid houses, these problems are resolved for our well-being and I think we will breathe well.”
Jean René, 41, Cameroonian, President of the Central Committee for Refugees of the ETM Reception Center, Hamdallaye.

Jean Rene (2nd from left) stands with other residents in front of his unit

AIRD began construction of the housing units in December 2021 and they were handed over four months later. The project has further enabled AIRD to take steps forward in its ambition to diversify the activities of the program in Niger by doing more for Persons of Concern.