August 5, 2020, 07.07 PM

“Let us not forget that 10 million Nigeriens live on less than two euros a day,” the official said.

Among the 20 people Reuters interviewed, four said they received aid.

However, they said they were given cash, not goods, by local suppliers — which is against EU rules — and that the funds were less than the value of the goods they were promised.

Agadez leaders told Reuters that the growing ranks of unemployed in the city could make residents susceptible to recruitment by groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Although the region has remained largely free of Islamist violence, attacks elsewhere in Niger surged in 2019, mainly along the western border with Mali and Burkina Faso.

Critics of the EU program, including philanthropies, human rights groups and migration experts, say the European fund was hastily put together, with slow and opaque decision-making and poor oversight.

"Again and again with these EU migration-related projects, the top line is about stopping migration to Europe, and they become blind to the problems along the way," said Raphael Shilhav, EU migration policy advisor at anti-poverty charity Oxfam International.

Poorer than before

Without a way to support his wife and two children, Chani said he agreed to transport a truckload of drugs from Agadez to the town of Ingal, 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the west.

He said he did not know what drugs he was carrying and quit when he didn't get paid for his first run.

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