Hopes and Despair: The Odyssey of Youth and Child Migrants in the Sahara

Mobility and migration is an integral part of lives in West Africa. However, daily lives of migrants are often marked by precarious conditions and limited protection. The documentary "Hopes and Despair" explores the experiences, hopes and hardships of young Beninese migrants.

Hopes and Despair

For many people in the West African region, mobility and migration are an integral part of their lives. Already in 1979, this long tradition of regional mobility and cross-border economic networks was also acknowledged by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) whose Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment created a binding legal framework for the sub-region. However, in reality this vision is yet to be fully realised.

The daily lives of many migrants in West Africa are marked by precarious working and living conditions, limited access to support mechanisms and the lack of effective protection. Against this backdrop, the Benin multi-stakeholder platform on Migration (PMB) aims at strengthening the rights of migrants, promoting comprehensive migration policies at national and regional level, and highlighting the potential of migration as a driver of local development. It brings together trade union actors, NGOs, migrant associations, media professionals and researchers and also sheds light on the grey areas of migration.

One of these grey areas is child labour migration, the exploitation and the cross-border trafficking of children and minors. The documentary “Hopes and Despair: The Odyssey of Youth and Child Migrants in the Sahara” depicts the migration experiences, hopes and hardships of young migrants from Benin. At the same time, the documentary serves the PMB to raise awareness in local communities and to explore ways of addressing and preventing child trafficking.




Director: Ignace Yechenou

Producer: Plateforme Multi-acteurs de la Migration au Bénin (Benin Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Migration, PMB) in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Benin

Production Company: Les Films TOGBO


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At the regional level the FES Flight and Migration Competence Center (FES-FMCC) aims to support fact-based platforms for dialogue between Africa and Europe, to strengthen stakeholders working within the field of migration and to contribute to African migration policy debates: https://fmcc.fes.de/

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