Coup: Thousands Of Europe-Bound Migrants Stranded In Niger

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At least 7,000 migrants heading for Europe are currently stranded in the Republic of Niger.
This comes after the July 26 coup and the subsequent closure of the borders of the francophone country.
As part of economic and travel sanctions, Niger’s junta closed its airspace, and regional countries closed border crossings, making it hard for people to leave.
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On July 26, Niger’s presidential guard overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
This event led to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposing sanctions and urging the coup leaders to restore Bazoum as the legitimate president or face possible military intervention.
AP quoted United Nations officials as estimating that about 1,800 migrants are living on Niger’s streets because centres run by the International Organisation for Migration were too crowded to take in more. The centres hold about 5,000 people trying to get home.
The acting interim chief of mission for the agency in Niger, Paola Pace, the UN agency has been assisting approximately 1,250 people a month to return to their countries this year. But the closure of borders and airspace has forced it to temporarily suspend returns, and its centres are now jammed at 14 per cent over capacity.
“This situation poses challenges for migrants, as migrants staying in these centres may experience heightened stress and uncertainty with limited prospects for voluntary return and already crowded facilities,” she said.
Pace expressed worry over the stall in the transiting of Africans seeking to get home could increase exploitation of vulnerable people by traffickers and smugglers who normally focus on individuals trying to migrate to Europe
COOPI, an Italian aid group that provides shelter for migrants in Niger’s northern town of Assamakka near the border with Algeria, said that since the coup an additional 1,300 people have entered its center trying to return home.
COOPI assists the U.N. in hosting people, but has warned that it will run out of food and water if the borders don’t open soon.
Not only are migrants unable to leave but aid groups are unable to bring in food and medical supplies.
Morena Zucchelli, head of mission for COOPI in Niger, said it has only enough food stocks to last until the end of August and its funding will run out at the end of September.
“If the situation doesn’t change, we can’t guarantee things will continue running,” she said.


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