Niger continues to have significant humanitarian needs. The country suffers from food shortages, undernourishment in children, epidemics and the increase in the number of displaced persons. Those displaced are from Niger itself or refugees fleeing conflict in Burkina Faso, Mali, the Lake Chad region and northwest Nigeria. Violence spills over from neighbouring countries into Niger's cross-border regions. Getting humanitarian aid to vulnerable people remains a challenge.
More than 3.8 million people need humanitarian aid in Niger, which is the last-ranking country in the Human Development Index. Many in Niger suffer from food shortages. The availability of food becomes even scarcer between harvests. There is an emergency level of severe acute malnutrition affecting children under the age of 5 across the country.
The consequences of armed group violence in neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria are worsening the humanitarian situation in Niger. As of the end of February 2021, the Niger regions of Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua and Tillabéri host about 234,000 refugees.
Due to the growing insecurity within Niger’s borders, the number of internally displaced people continues to grow. They heavily rely on humanitarian aid for their survival. In some areas affected by conflict, people have to cope with strict measures from the state of emergency (such as the ban on the use of motorbikes), which have disrupted their lives and access to basic social services.
The Nigerien authorities are requiring humanitarian organisations the use of armed escorts to reach those in need. Humanitarian organisations still unanimously refuse to use such operation modalities out of respect for the humanitarian principles (in particular, neutrality in any armed conflict) which govern the distribution of aid.
The European Union 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 €32.3 million in humanitarian aid 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 (such as victims of gender-based violence, unaccompanied children and disabled people), natural hazards or epidemics, including COVID-19.
Humanitarian crises caused by conflict escalate rapidly. The EU supports organisations in 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. At least €10 million of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in West and Central Africa.