NIAMEY, 16 DECEMBER – Concluding a six-day visit to Niger, the UN Assistant-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms Ursula Mueller, called on the international community to urgently pay greater attention to the challenges the country is facing.
“The United Nations is extremely concerned about the situation in Niger, and in particular about the humanitarian consequences of the growing insecurity in neighboring countries and the devastating effects of climate shocks,” Ms Mueller declared.
During her official visit, the Assistant-Secretary General met with H.E. President Mahamadou Issoufou, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Niger, H.E. Brigi Rafini, as well as with other members of the Government, representatives of the diplomatic corps and humanitarian organisations working in the country. She also visited the regions of Diffa and Maradi where she inquired about the living conditions and priority needs of internally displaced persons, refugees, migrants, as well as of the regional authorities and communities hosting them.
“I was extremely moved by the courage shown by the IDPs, refugees, migrants and asylum seekers with whom I spoke,” said Ms Mueller. “To the exemplary generosity and solidarity shown by these communities hosting them despite being amongst the most vulnerable, we owe them to strengthen our support.”
A complex security situation destabilizes the borders with Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso, due to the activism of nonstate armed groups. This year, more than 250 civilians were killed and nearly 320 people were abducted, mainly internally displaced persons, refugees and members of the host communities. More than 400,000 people (refugees and internally displaced persons) have been forced to leave their homes and are living in situations of forced displacement.
“The Government and the people of Niger have responded quickly to the growing threats we are faced with,” said H.E. Brigi Rafini. “We have opened our doors to tens of thousands of refugees and migrants, initiated several dialogues with the regional and national authorities of our neighboring countries and developed several emergency plans. The United Nations has been providing us with essential support for several years and we hope that the international community will support us even more at this critical time. »
Growing insecurity in border areas and regular climate shocks such as drought and devastating floods have exacerbated chronic food insecurity and malnutrition crises in this Sahelian country, which is reported among the poorest in the world.
At present, 2.3 million people – more than one in ten people – are in need of humanitarian assistance. The Government, the United Nations and NGO partners estimate that this number is likely to reach about 2.9 million in 2020, and they have developed a humanitarian response plan worth $407 million to assist 1.9 million of the most vulnerable people.
“Niger is a key partner for the entire international community and a key player in the Sahel region,” highlighted the Assistant-Secretary General. “There is an urgent need to strengthen our support to the people and government of Niger, particularly through emergency aid and development actions that can not only save lives but also have an impact on the root causes of the crises facing the country.”