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Thursday, February 29, 2024

International nationals evacuate Niger, as regional tensions rise

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NIAMEY, Niger — International nationals lined up exterior an airport in Niger’s capital Wednesday morning ready for a 3rd evacuation flight, whereas a regional bloc continued talks about its response to the coup that befell final week.

French forces within the capital, Niamey, evacuated a whole lot of largely French nationals to Paris on two flights Tuesday, following issues that their residents and different Europeans risked turning into trapped by final week’s army coup, which ousted and detained President Mohamed Bazoum.

France, Italy and Spain all introduced evacuations for his or her residents and different Europeans. The USA has but to announce plans for an evacuation, nonetheless some have left the with the assistance of the Europeans.

An Italian army plane landed in Rome Wednesday with 99 passengers, together with 21 People and civilians from different nations, stated the Italian protection minister. The primary of two French flights that landed in Paris in a single day had 12 infants amongst 262 individuals aboard, most of them French however together with evacuees from Niger, Portugal, Belgium, Ethiopia and Lebanon, France’s International Ministry stated.

Earlier than dawn Wednesday, a whole lot of individuals lined up exterior the terminal at Niamey’s airport hoping to depart, after a 3rd flight was canceled the evening earlier than. Some slept on the ground, others watched video video games or talked on the telephone.

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Some dad and mom tried to defend their kids from what was occurring.

“I haven’t advised them very a lot, simply that they’re going dwelling,” stated a passenger who didn’t wish to be named for safety causes.

“If ECOWAS (a West African regional bloc) intervenes, populations can assault ECOWAS nationals right here. They’ve already made threats,” he stated.

On Sunday, ECOWAS stated it might use pressure in opposition to the junta if it didn’t launch and reinstate the president inside every week. The announcement was instantly rejected by neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, all of that are run by mutinous troopers who toppled their governments.

Mali and Burkina Faso’s leaders stated a army intervention in Niger “can be tantamount to a declaration of struggle” in opposition to them.

Niger was seen as one of many area’s final democracies and a accomplice Western nations might work with to beat again the jihadi violence that’s wracked the area. The USA, France and different European nations have poured thousands and thousands of {dollars} of army assist and help into the nation.

On Tuesday, United States stated its Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with President Bazoum and underscored that the U.S. rejects efforts to overturn the constitutional order, and stands with the individuals of Niger, ECOWAS, the African Union and worldwide companions in help of democratic governance and respect for the rule of legislation and human rights.

The protection chiefs of ECOWAS’ 15 members will meet in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, from Wednesday to Friday to debate subsequent steps in resolving the disaster, the bloc stated in an announcement.

At a digital United Nations assembly on Tuesday evening, the U.N. particular envoy for West Africa and the Sahel stated that efforts aside from the specter of pressure are underway to revive democracy in Niger.

“One week will be greater than sufficient if all people talks in good religion, if all people desires to keep away from bloodshed,” stated Leonardo Santos Simao. However, he added, “completely different member states are getting ready themselves to make use of pressure if obligatory.”

However some within the diplomatic neighborhood imagine the usage of pressure might be an actual choice.

ECOWAS is resolved to make use of army pressure after financial and journey sanctions have did not roll again different coups, stated a Western diplomat in Niamey who didn’t wish to be recognized for safety causes.

Niamey has calmed after protests supporting the junta turned violent Sunday when demonstrators attacked the French embassy and set fireplace to a door.

However some say the temper remains to be tense. Throughout Tuesday’s evacuation flights on the airport, a passenger who didn’t wish to be named for safety causes stated that the Nigerien army, which was escorting an Italian army convoy into the airport, sped off with troopers who raised their center fingers on the passengers.

That very same evening, the M62 Motion, an activist group that has organized pro-Russia and anti-French protests, known as for residents in Niamey to mobilize and block the airport till overseas army forces go away the nation.

“Any evacuation of Europeans (needs to be) conditional on the fast departure of overseas army forces,” Mahaman Sanoussi, the nationwide coordinator for the group, stated in an announcement.


AP journalists Edith M. Lederer on the United Nations, Chinedu Asadu in Abuja, Nigeria, Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington DC, John Leicester in Paris and Frances D’Emilio in Rome, Italy contributed to this report.

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