Niger continues to suffer significant humanitarian needs due to conflicts, food shortages, child malnutrition, epidemics and natural hazards. Niger is the last-ranking country in the Human Development Index. The number of people displaced by conflict is increasing, reaching more than 280,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the end of August 2021. Also, about 250,000 refugees have fled violence in neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali, the Lake Chad region or northwest Nigeria. Delivering humanitarian aid to these vulnerable populations is increasingly challenging.
More than 3.8 million people need humanitarian aid in Niger. Many suffer from food shortages. About 2.3 million people are severely food insecure during the 2021 lean season. There is an emergency level of severe acute malnutrition affecting children under 5. There is a growing source of concern on food insecurity, especially in the Tillaberi region.
Extreme violence by non-state armed groups against civilians in Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria exacerbates the humanitarian situation in Niger and the greater Sahel region. At the end of August 2021, the regions of Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéri hosted about 250,000 refugees.
Due to growing insecurity in Niger, the number of IDPs has reached more than 280,000, who rely heavily on humanitarian assistance for their survival. In Tillaberi and Tahoua, non-state armed groups have killed more than 500 civilians since January 2021. Access to the limited social services is constrained by recurrent attacks on health centres or schools.
Niger is also facing a cholera outbreak in 6 out of its 8 regions. By 20 September, over 4,813 cases and 151 deaths had been confirmed. The risk of further contamination is high, given the current rainy season and related floods, which have already affected over 200,000 people.
The EU is one of the leading humanitarian donors in Niger, providing emergency and life-saving aid to people in need.
In 2021, the EU is providing €34.06 million in humanitarian assistance in areas and regions affected by conflict, epidemics, widespread food shortages, and high undernourishment rates among children.
EU humanitarian funding focuses primarily on covering basic needs, including:
We also provide protection to vulnerable people affected by conflict (victims of gender-based violence, unaccompanied children and disabled people), natural hazards or epidemics (cholera, floods), including COVID-19 and humanitarian air services.
Humanitarian crises caused by conflict escalate rapidly. The EU supports organisations responding quickly to meet the basic needs of vulnerable people when they face specific shocks.
In addition, the EU provides support to strengthen the state of preparedness of communities and authorities in responding to recurrent emergencies, particularly food and nutritional crises, natural hazards and population displacement.
In light of the volatile security situation in Niger, the EU continues to advocate for a safe working environment for humanitarian workers, where respect for humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law provides the basis for the humanitarian agenda and response.
The European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. In Niger, we allocated €1.33 million to support vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable people, in particular migrants expelled from Algeria and Libya, IDPs and refugees.
Humanitarian access remains a challenge. The authorities are demanding that humanitarians use armed escorts to reach those in need in certain areas. However, aid organisations bound by the internationally recognised humanitarian principles (in particular, neutrality in any armed conflict) cannot operate alongside any armed forces for the distribution of aid.