U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Niger
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||1 January 1999|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Niger , 1 January 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8c314.html [accessed 17 October 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Niger hosted approximately 3,000 refugees at year's end, primarily from Mali.
Niger was no longer a significant refugee-producing country at the end of 1998. An estimated 5,000 Nigerien refugees repatriated to Niger during the year.
Refugees from Niger
Most Nigerien refugees were ethnic Tuaregs, predominantly nomads, who fled government crackdowns against a Tuareg insurgency in northern Niger during the early 1990s. A peace agreement between the Niger government and the insurgents in 1995 brought relative calm to the affected area of Niger.
Niger signed agreements with Algeria and Burkina Faso in 1996 to lay the groundwork for the eventual return of Nigerien refugees. A major impediment to repatriation since 1996 has been Niger's extreme poverty, which has complicated the task of identifying and preparing sites where returnees could resettle in the bare desert environment. A UNHCR appeal to international donors in mid-1997 to fund the repatriation program received a modest financial response.
Several hundred refugees repatriated with UNHCR assistance in 1997, but up to 10,000 remained refugees as 1998 began. Momentum for repatriation received a boost in early 1998 when the Niger government enacted an amnesty for Tuareg rebels, and two Tuareg rebel groups formally surrendered their weapons.
A series of repatriation convoys organized by UNHCR in the first half of 1998 brought home nearly 3,000 Nigerien refugees from Algeria. It is probable that thousands more repatriated on their own without UNHCR assistance. UNHCR reported that no recognized Nigerien refugees remained in Algeria at year's end. Thousands of Nigeriens apparently remained in Algeria as economic migrants, however.
Returnees settled into a dozen designated sites in northern Niger. UNHCR appealed to international donors for $1.6 million to fund reintegration activities for returnees and their communities. Each settlement site was supposed to offer water resources, schools, and health facilities. Returnees received a six-month food ration, but many returnee families quickly exhausted their rations, sharing their food with neighbors amid general drought conditions.
Refugees from Mali
Malian refugees fled to Niger in 1994 because of hostilities between Mali's government and its Tuareg and Arab populations.
UNHCR began an assisted repatriation program in 1997, facilitating the return to Mali of about 1,000 refugees that year. An additional 9,000 refugees repatriated in 1997 without assistance. Some 3,000 Malians repatriated from Niger during 1998, although some sources estimated triple that number returned to Mali.
The exact number of Malian refugees who remained in Niger at year's end was unknown, but was believed to be fewer than 5,000. They required only minimal assistance.