Saturday the 27th of February the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Aid workers offer alternatives to migrants aiming to cross Sahara Desert

Catholic aid workers from Niger’s poorest areas have moved north to help migrants in Agadez, the city that serves as the jump-off point for the trek across the Sahara Desert toward Europe.

“We need to help people understand what they are getting into, and provide them with alternatives,” said Caroline Agalheir, Catholic Relief Services’ program manager in Niger.

“Young men mostly ask for training in welding,” she said.

Agalheir said by providing short, intensive courses as well as some basic materials, “we enable people to earn an income through making chairs, window bars, gates and other metal work.”

About 90 per cent of the migrants from West and Central African countries who pass through Agadez are men. Those who attend the training classes are able to teach others their newly acquired skills as well as set up shop, Agalheir said.

Niger is a vast, largely desert nation to the north of Nigeria. Most of Niger’s 20 million people live in the South of the country, which is at the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index and faces severe malnutrition and other poverty-induced health problems, Agalheir said.

Picture: Christian and Muslim women in Agadez, Niger, form strong friendships in Catholic Relief Services-run classes on how to dry and package food. (CNS/Michael Stulman, Catholic Relief Services).