Niger bans UN agencies and NGOs from military ‘operation zones’

Lazy eyes listen


The military authorities who took control in Niger in a July coup have prevented UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other international groups from working in its military “operation zones,” the Interior Ministry declared on Thursday.

The instruction was issued in response to “the current security situation and the ongoing operational engagement of the Nigerien Armed Forces,” according to a statement broadcast on national television and cited by local media.

All “activities and or movements [of the organizations] in the zones of operations are temporarily suspended,” according to the statement, which did not specify which regions were affected.

Days after the military takeover, the UN pledged to “remain engaged and committed” to the problem in Niger, where 3.3 million people are food insecure.

In July, UN Acting Resident Coordinator Nicole Kouassi expressed concern over the organization’s humanitarian air service flights being temporarily halted after the coup leaders blocked Niger’s airspace.

Last month, Niger’s new military rulers announced the cancellation of several military treaties with France, which has some 1,500 troops stationed in Niamey to assist in the fight against jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region.

Paris, on the other hand, has refused to withdraw its forces, claiming that the collaboration agreements were signed with “legitimate authorities” of its former territory. The French government has repeatedly referred to Niger’s new rulers as “illegitimate authorities” and has refused to comply with their orders, including a recent request that France’s ambassador depart Niamey within 48 hours.

The coup leaders are at war with the West African regional organization, ECOWAS, which has adopted the most strident posture in attempting to overthrow the coup in Niamey, threatening violent action if diplomatic efforts fail.

The regional authority renewed its appeal for military commanders to restore democratic order in the uranium-rich landlocked country in a statement issued on Thursday, reiterating its opposition to a proposed three-year transition phase.

“The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government’s demand is clear: the military authorities in Niger must immediately restore constitutional order by liberating and reinstating H.E. Excellency President Mohamed Bazoum,” it continued.