Nearly 2000 students from Chad have returned home from neighbouring Cameroon after COVID-19 spread there.
Many reached the border on foot, crossing into the Chadian provinces of Logone Occidental and Mayo-Kebbi Ouest.
They were supported in their journey home after a joint initiative from the European Union (EU) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was launched to help them return.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration is the first comprehensive mechanism to protect migrants in West and Central Africa.
The fund made a special allocation of 50,000 Euros through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa that allows these students to return home.
Upon their arrival, the students were quarantined for 14 days along the border.
None tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Nonetheless, most now find themselves without resources to continue their journeys to the capital N’Djamena, 450 kilometres from the quarantine centres.
IOM, at the request of the government of Chad, supported the students with transportation, chartering special buses headed back to their communities of origin.
With 46 cases of COVID-19 — yet no fatality- confirmed as of 27 April — Chad, too, has closed its land and air borders, schools, universities, religious buildings and non-essential businesses.
Public transport is strictly limited and several provinces are enforcing curfews.
IOM said it is working closely with Chad’s government and other partners to ensure that the most vulnerable population groups are protected and assisted.
Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chief of Mission in Chad said: “Since the borders closed, we have been informed of regular arrivals of Chadian nationals in the country.”
She continued: “This worries us as most here have no opportunities to safely return to their families after having used their meagre resources to purchase food, water and other essentials during their quarantine period.”