Tunisia, Mali, Niger

Supporting children and young people on migration routes

  • Project Name
    EJM RTES - Project for Children and Youth on Migration Routes in West and Northwest Africa
  • Project Phase
    2022 to 2024
  • Thematic focus
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Skills, Jobs and Income

Since 2022 Helvetas has been coordinating a regional project in Tunisia that aims to help children and young people along migration routes in West and Northwest Africa. Several countries – Tunisia, Mali, Niger, Guinea and Morocco – are cooperating to assist these child migrants.

Supporting children and young migrants

West and Northwest Africa are regions where people have been on the move for hundreds of years. Over five million of the estimated 40-45 million migrants across this vast area are children and young people under 24 years of age. For some years now, there has been a noticeable “feminization” of this mobility. Girls can make up between 25 and 50 per cent of the children on the move, depending on the country.

Children and young people migrate for a great variety of reasons. These include extreme poverty; a desire for good education and/or new opportunities; a family or social tradition of migration; to escape from violence, political instability, conflict or environmental problems; or simply the search for a better life. Girls have the same motives for migrating as well as specific inequalities and discrimination linked to socio-cultural restrictions within their communities of origin. These inequalities continue to dog them on migration routes.

Helvetas and its partners are therefore especially attentive to gender issues and to the specific problems this can cause during migration.

Our approach

The goal of the project is to make children and young people more autonomous by facilitating their integration into existing national, regional and transnational systems. This means helping them to access social services so that they can find accommodation or a host family as well as food and clothing, and helping them to access health centres, schooling and vocational training.

The objective of the project is not to establish new structures but to utilize and strengthen existing regional, national and transnational systems (health, education and child protection systems). Helvetas and its partners are encouraging the various actors to identify the barriers that prevent children and young people from accessing the appropriate services. The approach is then to assist local and regional authorities in their search for practical solutions that will allow these youngsters to gain access to the services they need.

Main themes


The project aims to protect children and young people better during their migration journeys by creating protective assistance schemes. In practice this means raising the children and young people’s awareness and informing them so that they are better prepared for the challenges. This involves risk prevention, community protection and formal support, the prevention of gender-based violence and human trafficking as well as cross-border case management including reintegration.


Another essential aspect of the project is to allow children and young migrants to join existing education systems and help them to gain practical life skills and some knowledge of professional opportunities. A number of different educational courses (bilingual, accelerated learning, mature students, etc.) have been devised to cater for a range of profiles and aspirations among young people. Due emphasis is given to digital tools and online learning.

Socio-economic integration

The needs and aspirations of these young people are at the heart of our intervention. Helvetas and its partners offer them guidance and support to achieve their goals, for example by helping the young people to do voational training that provides them with competencies and skills that reflect the economic realities of the region in which they find themselves. The aim is to facilitate their integration in their source and host communities, and to ensure that this integration lasts.


Young people are a tremendous asset, but also a possible threat when denied access to labor markets, services and decision-making. Almost every second unemployed person is aged between 15 and 24.


Helvetas neither encourages nor discourages people from migration. We recognize migration as a viable livelihood strategy.