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Migrant Response and Resources Mechanism in Niger

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2016 - Present

Type of practice


Geographic scope



Sub Regions:


Niger sits at a crossroads for multiple migration routes in the Sahel and West Africa region. While the majority of migrants in West Africa and the Sahel migrate within the region or to North Africa, some also cross through Niger intending to depart to Europe via the Central Mediterranean Route. In recent years, a trend of pushbacks of migrants from Algeria and Libya has increased, often leaving people stranded in harsh desert conditions where they are vulnerable to dehydration, extreme daytime temperatures, and lack of safe shelter and food. Currently, the Migrant Response and Resources Mechanism (MRRM) program operates in Niger and several other countries. Through the MRRM, migrants can access direct assistance, health, shelter, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR), and legal assistance. The services offered include: Addressing critical humanitarian needs of migrants in transit, primarily persons waiting to access the AVRR or asylum programme, through multi-sectoral assistance including shelter, non-food items, health, WASH, and food. Enhancing protection of migrants through MHPSS, information, legal support, and case management Strengthening the capacity of local communities to absorb and respond to shocks, including through social cohesion and peacebuilding activities. Search and rescue missions to identify and recover migrants stranded in the desert and at the border areas with Libya and Algeria. In its activities, IOM prioritises the protection of vulnerable groups, including children, women, and victims of trafficking. There are two accommodation centres that provide space for more vulnerable groups (one for unaccompanied children and families and one for women with and without children, and unaccompanied female children). In addition, IOM supports the State-run centre for victims and people at risk of trafficking. IOM also offers individualised case management for protection cases, cooperating with and referring to relevant partners. Since the July 2023 coup, IOM Niger has focused its activities on direct assistance to persons in vulnerable situations.

Partners involved include the government of Niger, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Direction for Territorial Surveillance (for Search and Rescue Missions), the Ministry of Justice and the associated National Agency for Legal Assistance, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Protection, and the National Agency for Countering Trafficking; ECOWAS and national embassies of migrants’ countries of origin. IOM also cooperates with international and national organisations including UNODC, UNHCR

Benefit and Impact

The beneficiary reach of the MRRM program is considerable. From 2016 to 2023, the MRRM in Niger has provided over 103,000 migrants with humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance, protection, food, and shelter. Additionally, more than 87,100 migrants have taken part in the AVRR programme between 2016 and 2022 and have returned to their country of origin, with Niger being the the first country of return for IOM worldwide for the second year in a row. Despite IOM Niger’s efforts, the sheer number of people requiring assistance through the MRRM, coupled with the decrease in funds available to support direct protection and assistance services, presents a challenge to providing quality, individualised care to all migrants stranded in the country.

Key Lessons

Reflecting the MRRM’s enormous caseload, adequate financing for implementation remains a consistent challenge, as funds have been diminishing and, as of the July 2023 military coup, foreign bilateral funds to Niger are subject to uncertainty. Insecurity also remains a persistent challenge, particularly in northern borders and around the deserts where there are non-state actors operating. Search and rescue missions therefore take place in far-flung and sometimes dangerous zones. Political instability in the countries of origin of migrants opting for AVRR can also present an obstacle to the AVRR activities, as this can delay the delivery of travel documents for migrants. Finally, while the collaboration with institutions of the Government of Niger has been seen as a good practice, State institutions face challenges around human and financial resources, compromising the long-term vision of handing over the MRRM response to the government of Niger.

Despite these challenges, through the MRRM programme, IOM has led important initiatives such as the development of the 2023-2025 Strategy for Disability Inclusion and an associated action plan, as well as strategy to strengthen accountability to affected population strategy that is under development as of 2023. These efforts are aimed at ensuring that MRRM services are accessible to all migrants, and that migrants and their needs are at the centre of all assistance.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

When the situation allows, IOM Niger has prioritised working with State institutions and the various technical partners to facilitate referrals of vulnerable cases (including unaccompanied minors) and ensure that comprehensive assistance is provided to all migrants and tailored to their specific needs. In doing so, IOM Niger has strengthened its efforts to place migrants at the centre of all assistance provided, including by ensuring strong mechanisms for accountability to affected populations. IOM Niger also pointed to the importance of having full-time staff with a diverse range of expertise, and to support staff with psychosocial support given the potential intensity of their work.


The emphasis on multilateral cooperation with different institutions of the government of Niger can be considered innovative, in that it promotes localisation in the long-term, even if there is not a precise timeline for the handover of the project to the government of Niger.

Date submitted:

04 December 2023

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).