Diffa – Souleymane Assane Mamadou, the communal youth president of Maïné Soroa, addresses a village assembly in Boudoum, in brilliant form and to the cheers of an attentive crowd.
Dressed in a white shirt, with a yellow turban on his head, he addressed the communities with poise to draw their attention to the challenges faced by the inhabitants of the villages of the commune bordering Nigeria, in the Diffa region of eastern Niger.
Since February 2015, the Diffa region has been facing a dual security and humanitarian crisis due to a resurgence of violence caused by attacks by non-state armed groups. The various attacks perpetrated have slowed down local economic development and caused large-scale displacement of thousands of local populations as well as Nigerian and Chadian refugees.
“Most of our youth feel frustrated and marginalized because they don’t have employment opportunities. This situation persists and is compounded by the insecurity that still exists in our region. We want things to change,” says Souleymane.
The 32-year-old man has always been committed to promoting communities’ well-being, including that of youth. Before taking up his current appointment, Souleymane was a member of the Union des Scolaires Nigériens (USN) and then a member of a youth association. Souleymane says: “I feel obliged to be engaged to show these young people who live in remote areas that we care about their situations, and we are there to support them.”
From 1st to 17th February 2023, Souleymane worked with the local authorities on the sidelines of an awareness-raising caravan across several villages in the Diffa Region to enhance exchanges and rebuild trust between the border communities and local authorities.
Through his interventions, Souleymane facilitates dialogue among communities to promote a peaceful environment that is conducive to the populations’ well-being. “Awareness-raising has an incommensurable power. It allows communities and local authorities to be engaged in the search for solutions that will bring peace and development to the region.”
One of Souleymane’s most fervent wishes is to participate in the economic recovery of the Maïné-Soroa District so that communities do not feel forced to fing refuge in neighbouring localities as 8138 persons are already displaced in the commune.
The young man firmly believes that to achieve this, an effective consultation framework should be set up and everyone should be willing to participate in improving the security situation in this region, which is prone to recurrent attacks by non-state armed groups.
“I have come to discuss with communities the opportunities available to young people and steps they need to take to access them. Moreover, the Government has taken measures on the exploitation of natural resources along the Komadougou Yobé River (a tributary of Lake Chad which forms the border between Niger and Nigeria), and the communities must be made aware of this,” he says.
Through his commitment, Souleymane invites communities to foster peace as improving the security situation will greatly contribute to their development and economic development of the region. Thus, he fervently hopes that trust between the communities and local authorities will be restored.
Indefatigable and passionate, he is enthusiastic and convinced that the efforts he makes on a daily basis will allow young people and future generations to have a bright future.
These awareness-raising activities were conducted under the projects “Improving border management and community resilience towards cross-border organized crime in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso with a focus on the Central Mediterranean Route” and “Strengthening Integrated Border Governance for Increased Security in Niger” funded by Italy and Belgium respectively.
Written by Abdoulaye Mamadou SOUKOUNA, Communications Officer for IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org.