Since 26 July 2023, a military coup in Niger has overthrown the regime in place. ECOWAS, whose position is also supported by Western countries, reacted by imposing wide-ranging economic sanctions against Niger, with the result that the country is currently deprived of a large proportion of international trade in goods, money, and even electricity from neighbouring Nigeria. In addition, ECOWAS, with the support of the international community (led by France), continues to threaten military intervention in Niger to restore the deposed President.
In this uncertainty where we don't know what will happen to Niger in the weeks, months or years to come. Alarme Phone Sahara is already experiencing the repercussions in its day-to-day work in Agadez, Assamaka, Bilma, Dirkou, Niamey and elsewhere. We are closely monitoring the situation and are concerned for the migrant population.
While we respect democratic values and in no way encourage any seizure of power by force, we nevertheless reject the way in which the International Community is managing and responding to the situation.
We strongly condemn the threats of military intervention in the country, and all economic, financial and even mobility sanctions, which have proven consequences only for the people of Niger and other nationals there. National and international humanitarian organizations, as well as Nigerien activists, are already reporting repercussions on food prices and a threat to food security.
While we are not in favour of military takeovers, we do insist on listening to the voices of the people, taking their demands seriously and analysing their demands for fundamental change. The expression of fed-up with a system of governance that is officially democratic but practically ignorant of the people's power and demands, probably serving only the interests of the West (particularly in the fight against immigration and insecurity) and encouraging corruption and social injustice.
Among the populations living in Niger, one of the most vulnerable is the migrant population, who find themselves trapped in conditions of precariousness, uncertainty and real prejudice due to the risks of war.
It is a fact that the principle of freedom of movement is one of the pillars of the ECOWAS agreements, but for some time now the organization has been unable to fully assume its role as guarantor of this right for the nationals of its area.
September 12 2023: Migrants protesting in Agadez outside the premises
of the IOM, outraged about returns to their home countries delayed by
ECOWAS sanctions imposed on Niger.
Refugees from Mali, deported from Algeria and stranded in Assamaka,
assisted by the local Alarme Phone Sahara team
© Alarme Phone Sahara
This situation, one of the consequences of the influence of the EU and its member countries on the migration policies of countries in the South, means that thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are currently stranded in Niger in deplorable conditions in IOM and UNHCR camps, as well as in migrant "ghettos" or on the streets. This situation is further aggravated by the sanctions and threats that hamper travel between Niger and its neighboring countries. It therefore becomes a moral and logical responsibility for ECOWAS and the EU to work together in a humane way to find urgent and long-term solutions to this situation.
Concerned about a better and fairer future for the people of Niger and Africa in general, Alarme Phone Sahara asks:
- To stop brandishing this threat of war against Niger, which only has consequences for the mental health of the population and leaves room for speculations and aggravations of tension.
- Calls on ECOWAS to make a clear and unequivocal commitment to preserving peace by silencing as soon as possible the sounds of gunfire between and within ECOWAS countries.
- The immediate lifting of the sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS and UEMOA, which are also having a direct impact on the population through rising prices and the lack of food, energy and even pharmaceutical supplies.
- The EU and its member states should review and support security concepts that respect the sovereignty of the African people and are effective in protecting the population, instead of supporting ECOWAS' threats of war and imposing its own military bases against the will of the local population.
- To create humanitarian corridors for the return of migrants who so wish, to activate evacuation and resettlement programs for people who have been stranded in Niger for some time, and to ensure dignified humanitarian assistance in the form of food, shelter and healthcare for migrants and refugees in need.
- To all organisations and individuals of good will, concerned with social justice, to enquire into the current situation in Niger in order to make their contribution to finding a healthy and just outcome for the people.
Signed September 12, 2023