After meeting Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, he said the “international community must realize” that terrorism “not just a regional or African issue, but one that threatens the whole world†
Peace, stability, prosperity
He reiterated his call for more resources to tackle the problem, saying that “peace, stability and prosperity in Niger and across the Sahel remains an absolute priority for the United Nations.”
President Mohamed Bazoum acknowledged Mr Guterres’ commitment to find a solution to the problem of terrorism, saying that it is “dynamic and has evolved and we need to adjust our response†
Meanwhile, the former president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufouagreed to a request from the President of the African Union and the UN Secretary-General to lead an Joint African Union (AU)-UN Strategic Assessment on Security in the Sahel, aimed at developing recommendations for strengthening the overall international response to the security crisis in the Sahel.
The review will be conducted in coordination with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Joint Secretariat of the Group of Five (G5).
Civilians as victims
The UN says insecurity in Niger is caused by a number of different actors and, as the UN chief noted, “citizens are often the first victims” when violence strikes. Figures show that almost eight in ten victims of attacks are civilians.
A series of extremist armed groups are mainly active in the regions of Tillabéri, Tahoua and Diffa in the northwest, south and southeast of the country respectively. In the Maradi region to the south, armed groups operating from Nigeria often cross the border to carry out raids; Bandits with weapons in Niger are also a major threat.
In 2021, the Global Terrorism Index attributed 588 deaths in Niger to terrorism, the highest terror-related death toll in the past decade. In the Tillabéri region, the number of deaths more than doubled between 2020 and 2021.
uncertainty is only part of what the Secretary-General called “a multidimensional crisis of extraordinary magnitude”. Climate change, increased food insecurity, malnutrition and record high food prices fueled by the war in Ukraine have all contributed to unprecedented humanitarian needs.
The UN says the number acutely food insecure people more than double since 2020and estimates that 15 percent of Niger’s population of 25 million will be in need of humanitarian assistance by 2022.
In a country where 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, insecurity and climate change have contributed to their inability to feed themselves.
The 2019 Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and income indicators, ranked Niger as the least developed of the 189 countries in the list.
Hope for the future
Despite the many challenges Niger faces, the UN Secretary-General told media in Niamey that there was still “hope” and that the UN must deliver on that hope and support young Nigeriens, especially women, to gain access to gain opportunities for a better future.
He said “positive momentum in Niger” could lead to a beneficial cycle of change across the region.
Mr Guterres will continue to Nigeria on Tuesday.