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African Migrant Who Fled Violence Dreams of Becoming Pilot in France

Migrants awaiting to board their resettlement flight at N’Djamena airport  Photo: Hani Nassar/IOM. 

He simply identified himself as Djamal, 22. He arrived in Chad from the Central African Republic with his mother and seven of his siblings in 2014.

His testimony: ‘’I was 16 years old then. We fled because of the violence in our country. When we arrived, we had nothing. We had no money, and we knew no one.

‘’We first went to Moundou [Southern Chad]. From there, international organisations helped us contact family members. Afterwards, we went to the Doholo refugee camp [near the border with CAR] to be registered as refugees.

‘’It was not easy. In the camp, my mother learnt about nutritional health and started working as an assistant in the health centre. The little that she earned helped us make ends meet. It was this work that helped us survive while we lived in the camp.

‘’We are happy to be going to France. I have made some friends here. Some of them work as drivers others want to go back to school.

‘’My dream is to become a pilot. I have always been fascinated by planes, and I hope that in France, I will be able to realise my dream.’’

Starting from November 27, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has been facilitating the resettlement of 120 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) to France.

The refugees, including 65 women and 55 men left N’Djamena (Chad) on a chartered flight the previous Friday morning. Many had spent more than 10 years in Chad, awaiting a chance to be resettled and restart their lives.

The UN migration agency says all COVID-19 sanitary protocols were adhered to during the resettlement operation (including PCR-testing to COVID-19 prior departure).

In addition to COVID-19 screening, the refugees were screened for medical conditions and received in-depth pre-departure orientation to ensure their integration in their new society goes as smoothly as possible.

Upon arrival in France, the refugees were welcomed by French NGOs providing administrative and social support for a one-year period.

IOM Chad Chief of Mission, Anne Schaefer, says “resettlement offers refugees a unique opportunity to rebuild their lives in dignity. It is thus an important part of finding durable solutions to refugee situations, of which we are proud to participate.”

With more than 480,000 refugees living in 14 camps and various urban centres, Chad is one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in West and Central Africa.

IOM works closely with government, non-governmental and UN partners, to ensure that the most vulnerable among them have access to durable and lifesaving solutions such as resettlement to a third country.

This includes eligibility assessment and referral, accommodation in a transit centre (once refugee status has been determined and the resettlement process has been initiated), pre-departure medical screening, vulnerability assessment, flight and support for durable integration in the destination country.

In 2020, IOM in Chad resettled 312 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic to France, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway.


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