On Tuesday December 12, Acted, Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Médecins du Monde issued the following statement: “International NGOs in Niger express their deep disappointment at the lack of humanitarian exemptions granted by Ecowas to the sanctions regime against Niger”.
These international NGOs working in Niger have called on the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to ease its sanctions against Niamey, to allow emergency humanitarian aid to enter from neighboring Benin.
The twenty-odd organizations are calling for the “immediate reopening” of the border with Benin, which has been blocked due to regional sanctions, to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid to Niger, where they say more than 4.3 million people are in need of urgent assistance.
At the end of a summit in Abuja on Sunday, Ecowas maintained the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Niger after the coup d’état on July 26, conditioning their easing on a “short transition” in particular.
“We demand the immediate opening of the border between Benin and Niger to humanitarian aid”, plead these NGOs, who deplore that Ecowas has “not heeded calls” from the humanitarian community “to ensure that civilians in Niger have access to vital aid”.
“We want to convince the Ecowas heads of state to expressly state that there are humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions,” NRC regional spokesman Ousmane Drabo told AFP.
“We have provided access for medical and humanitarian goods, but the military authorities are refusing to use it”, said the President of the Ecowas Commission, Omar Touray, on Sunday.
In their statement, the NGOs believe that humanitarian exemptions would “alleviate the suffering” of more than 4.3 million Nigeriens “in urgent need of humanitarian aid” and “for whom the consequences are worsening by the day”.
The absence of a humanitarian exemption “risks seriously compromising access to medical assistance, food and other essential needs for Niger’s most vulnerable populations”, stressed Mohammed Chikhaoui, humanitarian representative of these international NGOs operating in Niger.
According to him, more than 2 million people faced food insecurity between October and December 2023, forcing 15% of the population to move due to lack of access to food or assistance.
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