Since July 30, 2023, following the 51st Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Abuja, Nigeria, Niger has been under multiple sanctions. The sanctions include the “closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, the establishment of an ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions.” These sanctions are a cause for concern for humanitarian actors. It is a major challenge to continue providing effective, high-quality assistance to communities facing crises.
A vital issue for communities In Niger
Enabling humanitarian aid workers to continue to operate fully and without restriction in Niger is a matter of urgency for the local population, particularly for people facing health inequities in the country.
According to the 2023 humanitarian response plan, 4.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Niger. More than 700,000 people are displaced in the country, including 400,000 internally displaced persons and 251,000 refugees.
Acute malnutrition also affects a large number of children in Niger. Of the country’s children, 12.2% suffer from global acute malnutrition, and 2.4% suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
ALIMA and other NGOs fear that the situation could worsen drastically, not only for the children, but also for the entire population, already suffering from multiple crises. “Thirteen percent of the population suffers from severe food insecurity due to the compounding effects of the conflict, the 2021 drought, and inflation caused by the collective sanctions adopted following the events of July 26 in Niger. The current sanctions impact the ability of humanitarian actors to meet the vital needs of 3.3 million Nigeriens facing food insecurities.”
Three urgent steps to take
In their advocacy note to the international community, the NGOs suggest three urgent steps to preserve Nigerien people’s access to basic social services and humanitarian assistance:
- Introduce humanitarian exemptions to all the collective sanctions adopted against Niger and guarantee the continuity of access of humanitarian services to vulnerable populations in Niger.
- Review the sanctions and apply the principle of “Do no harm” to any measure adopted against Niger. This would guarantee protection and minimize the negative impact on the Nigerien people.
- Demonstrate creativity, flexibility, and adaptation of financing mechanisms to maintain access to basic social services for the populations of Niger.
ALIMA, ACRA, Action Against Hunger, African Initiatives for Relief and Development (AIRD), Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB), Association Nodde Nooto (A2N), Ayuda en Acción, Care, Christian blind mission (CBM), Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP), Concern Worldwide, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Coopérazione internazionale (COOPI), Coopération pour le développement des pays émergents (COSPE), Cure International, Educo, Handicap international, Helen Keller INTL, Hope Walks, International Rescue Committee (IRC), INTERSOS, Islamic Relief, Marie Stopes NIGER, Médecins du Monde, Mercy Corps, Muslim Hands, AKARASS, Karakara, Oxfam, PATHFINDER, Plan international, Rain for the Sahel and Sahara, RET Americas, Save the Children, Search for Common Ground, Solidarités International, SOS Villages d’Enfants, Swissaid, SONAH NIGER, Terre des hommes, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières, Welt Hunger Hilfe, World Vision
Cover picture : © Alexandre Bonneau / ALIMA