It was December 2017 in the city of Agadez, Niger when the first group approached canada goose factory sale UNHCR, asking for protection. The UN’s refugee agency had spent the past couple of months building up its presence in the area, but the arrival of the Sudanese was not what it expected.

A sprawling collection of walled compounds and dusty, rutted canada goose outlet canada streets in the heart of the Sahara, Agadez has long been a gateway between West and North Africa. For most of its history, the travellers passing through have been caravanning traders and people moving within the African continent in search of work. But as canada goose factory outlet Libya descended into chaos following the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, an unregulated route to Europe opened up from Libyan shores and canada goose outlet jackets 2,000 kilometers to the south, hundreds Canada Goose online of thousands of West Africans flocked to Agadez to join convoys of pickup trucks setting out across the desert towards the Libyan coast.

With its expanded presence in canada goose outlet in usa the city, goose outlet canada UNHCR anticipated identifying asylum cases among people following this route before they started the dangerous journey into Libya and across the sea. But the arrival of the Sudanese most driven from their homes in the conflict ridden region of Darfur more than a decade ago signalled something new: instead of heading north towards Europe, this group of refugees and asylum seekers was travelling south from Libya in search of protection. And, once the first group arrived, more kept coming by the dozens until there were around 2,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Agadez.

What prompted the Sudanese to turn to the south was probably a confluence of factors: a desire to escape conflict and the abuses committed by militias and smugglers; European policies that have led to a nearly 78 percent drop in the number of people crossing the sea from Libya to Italy since July last year; and rumours of aid and protection for asylum seekers in Niger, and maybe just maybe the chance of a legal way to reach Europe.

The fact that the Sudanese were compelled to venture to Agadez at all highlights a broader truth: the international refugee protection system has failed in its response to long term displacement.

Adam and his wife had just found out they were expecting a child. It was December 2015 and the young couple was at a hospital in Amman, Jordan for a routine check up. On their way out, a police officer stopped Adam’s canada goose outlet reviews wife, asking for her ID.

As Sudanese refugees from Darfur, they had a document from UNHCR. Adam still carries it with him, now deeply creased and slightly torn. It has colour photos of him and his wife and two blue UNHCR stamps. One section, written in Arabic and English, states that the holder of Canada Goose Outlet the paper should be “protected from forcible return to a country where he would face threats to his life or freedom”.

But that night, the document and their status didn’t matter. “They took us from the hospital to canada goose outlet nyc the airport and from the airport to Sudan,” Adam said in Agadez in March. “I have no idea why.”

The Jordanian government deported hundreds of refugees back to Sudan that month. Most of them like Adam were from Darfur and had arrived in Jordan after paying smugglers to get them medical visas, exploiting a loophole that allowed them to arrive in the country and then apply for asylum.

Arriving at the airport in Khartoum, Adam was terrified. Darfur has been ravaged by conflict since 2003, and, in 2005, when Adam was 19, he had been forced to flee his village because of fighting between rebel groups and the Sudanese government. Despite canada https://www.outletmoncler.de goose black friday sale living in a camp for displaced people, he managed to get a scholarship to study law at a university close to the Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, but faced discrimination and watched as other Darfuri students were attacked by pro government students.

Now back, he was afraid of what would happen if the government caught him after he had fled and applied for asylum. “From the airport, you want to escape,” Adam said. “You just want canada goose outlet to go because maybe they’ll take you and kill you or torture you.”

With only the clothes on their backs and money borrowed from friends, Adam and his wife made their way from Sudan to Chad and then crossed the border into Libya in January 2016. Initially, the plan was to cross the sea to Europe, but first Adam needed to work to save up enough money.

Even when he found employment, life in Libya was not stable. There was fighting between militias, jockeying for power and access to revenue from oil wells and smuggling routes, and sub Saharan Africans were specifically targeted for petty crime, kidnapping, canada goose clearance and extortion. By February this year, Adam was fed up. “The situation wasn’t safe,” he said. He feared for his wife and their young daughter and had heard that Niger was safe and that he could enter without a passport. “I wanted security,” Adam added. “After, I thought I’d see.”

Adam’s route was more circuitous than most, but there was a common element linking the stories of all the Sudanese who ended up in Agadez: they were on the move because the system that existed to take care of them after they were displaced had failed.

Fighting in Darfur, starting in 2003, drove nearly half of the six million people living there to flee their homes. Last year, the UN estimated that 2.1 million people were still displaced within the region, and around 325,000 were living as refugees in neighbouring Chad.

Despite a recent decline in fighting, a 2017 report from the United Nations Panel of Experts on Sudan stated that the presence of armed militiamen around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) continued to pose a security concern and that physical assault, rape, and robbery routinely occurred within them.

The security situation for refugees in Chad is better, but people there are suffering from another problem: the outside world stopped caring about Darfur.

For years, the conflict canada goose uk outlet had celebrity status bolstered by international campaigns accusing the Sudanese government of genocide. canada goose outlet But now, Darfur has slipped almost entirely from the radar, and funding for humanitarian programmes has diminished with the conflict’s visibility. In 2014, the World Food Programme was forced to cut food rations for Darfuri refugees in Chad by 50 percent due to lack of funding. “There is no more interest for this crisis, so there is no more money,” said Jrme Tubiana, an independent researcher focusing on Sudan.

Fifteen years on, there’s still no resolution in Darfur paving the way for large numbers of people to return home. Instead, the menace of violence, food shortages, lack of educational opportunities, and economic necessity are pushing people to search on their own for solutions the international community hasn’t been able to provide. “The people who move they really lost hope in Canada Goose sale the international community,” said Tubiana.”Very often, Libya or Europe appears the only solution.”

The Sudanese who ended up in Agadez were mostly young and middle aged men who had left the IDP camps in Darfur and the refugee camps in official canada goose outlet Chad. Many were already registered with UNHCR. Some had been in Niger before, working in gold mines in remote parts of the desert. But most had gone to Libya searching for work so they could send remittances back to their families or to try to cross the sea to canada goose outlet shop Europe.

Along the way “they fell prey to human traffickers and ended up in slavery situations being forced to work beaten, not paid,” explained UNHCR’s special representative for the Central Mediterranean Vincent Cochetel, who visited Agadez in April.

Facing these abuses, with the route to Europe constricted and not wanting, or being able, canada goose uk black friday to go back to the camps in Darfur or Chad, the Sudanese began heading to Agadez.

The arrival of the Sudanese in Agadez in December coincided with the beginning of an emergency programme for refugees stranded in Libyan detention centres that saw people evacuated to Niger to await resettlement in Europe. Early press reports suggested that the programme, run by UNHCR, was creating canada goose outlet online a pull factor for the Sudanese. But their arrival in Agadez appears to have been motivated by less concrete information.

“I heard that in Niger there are laws and security,” Hashim, a 58 year old who fled Libya after a militia attacked the town where he was staying, told IRIN in March. Others mentioned hearing various rumours, but nobody specifically said they’d come because they expected to be resettled. Instead, they were drawn by the idea there might be aid in a place safer than Libya, and the possibility, if distant, of a different outcome than they got in Sudan or Chad.

But the government of Niger viewed the arrival of the Sudanese differently. “We know that these people are fighters, soldiers, and they came here because canada goose outlet uk now they expect to go to Europe,” Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s minister of interior, told IRIN.