11.11.11 urges solidarity with people of Niger as Belgian charities suspend cooperation

Belgium is reducing a portion of its development aid to Niger. Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez (Vooruit) announced this after the recent coup in the country, stating that “undermining democratic governance in such a brutal manner cannot go without consequences.”

Earlier, the military cooperation between Belgium and Niger had already been halted. Now, a portion of the development cooperation is also being suspended.

As a result, a prestige project worth 4.5 million euros in Torodi, near the capital Niamey, is being stopped. Belgian defense, diplomacy, and development cooperation were collaborating on this project (known as the 3D approach) to improve living conditions and provide young people with a future perspective.

Enabel, the Belgian development agency, is also scaling back its activities in Niger. In the West African country, Enabel was involved in improving access to education and healthcare, among other things. However, Belgian humanitarian aid will continue unchanged. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, with around 4.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance according to the UN. The population there suffers mainly from hunger, drought, and terrorist violence. The recent coup is expected to further exacerbate the instability.

Minister Gennez stated that she did not make the decision lightly, as it has direct consequences for the people of Niger. She explained that the decision to continue or suspend development aid depends on two criteria: the safety of their personnel and the impact of their projects. She noted that there is currently no indication that the remaining staff are in danger. However, she expressed that unfortunately, it will no longer be possible to achieve results in the Torodi project as long as the current junta remains in power.

At the same time, the minister aims to send a political signal to the coup leaders. “Your actions have consequences,” Gennez explained. “Just like the EU and our African regional and international partners, we strongly condemn the coup in Niger and urgently call for the restoration of constitutional order and democratic governance, as well as the immediate release of democratically elected President Bazoum and the ministers of his government who were recently arrested.”

The solidarity organization 11.11.11 understands the partial suspension.

“In all partnerships, on-site security and project impact should be the priority,” the organization confirmed. “The decision is in line with the instability in Niger since the coup.”

However, 11.11.11 emphasized the importance of remaining in solidarity with the population of Niger and continuing to provide humanitarian aid. They stressed that political violence leads to people fleeing, and they should not be abandoned. The same goes for local civil society; they should not disappear from our focus, especially not now.

Regional Powder Keg

On July 26, President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed and taken into custody by his own presidential guard. General Abdourahamane Tiani declared himself the head of state of the former French colony and installed a military junta. Since then, the country has been highly unsettled, and external pressure to reverse the coup has been significant.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued an ultimatum to the coup leaders: they had until Sunday to reinstate the elected government, or a military intervention would follow. General Tiani let the deadline pass without flinching; meanwhile, he closed the Nigerien airspace to hinder outside invasion.

Mali and Burkina Faso, two neighboring countries where the military has also seized power in recent years, expressed their support for the coup leaders.

The coup in Niger was the latest in a series of coups in the Sahel region, and according to observers, an intervention could plunge the region into complete chaos. Mali and Burkina Faso, two neighboring countries where the military has also seized power in recent years, expressed their support for the coup leaders. Both countries directly oppose the interests of the West African union ECOWAS, led by Nigeria.

“If the security situation becomes untenable, for example due to a military intervention, we will not hesitate to take further appropriate measures,” Caroline Gennez added.

The author: Michel THEYS

Michel Theys, a Belgian native, began his career as a civil servant, serving the public for several decades. After retirement, he shifted gears to follow his passion for journalism. With a background in public administration, Theys brought a unique perspective to his reporting. His insightful articles, covering a wide array of topics, swiftly gained recognition. Today, Michel Theys is a respected journalist known for his balanced and thoughtful reporting in the Belgian media landscape.

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