On Tuesday, UN officials said sanctions on Niger imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were blocking aid deliveries and shipments of food into the country.
“There is no way to bring humanitarian aid into the country,” said Emmanuel Gignac, UN refugee agency representative for Niger, according to Reuters. “The immediate goods (affected) is going to be food, and then it’s going to be access to medicine, to drugs.”
ECOWAS imposed the harsh sanctions in the wake of the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and replaced him with a military junta led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani. The blockade is meant to pressure Tchiani and other coup leaders to reinstate Bazoum, but there’s no sign they will back down.
According to Reuters, since the sanctions were imposed, trucks carrying food and humanitarian aid have been piling up at Niger’s borders, driving up food prices in the country. UN aid flights have also been grounded because sanctions are preventing jet fuel from getting into the country.
Gignac said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made a request for sanctions exemptions, but it has not been granted.
The US and France have backed the ECOWAS threats and pressure against Niger. Paris has been more hawkish than Washington on the issue, as French President Emmanuel Macron has explicitly stated his country would back ECOWAS military intervention in Niger if diplomacy fails.