Niger: Evacuated European nationals arrive in Paris and Rome
In France and Italy, flights evacuating Europeans from Niger have arrived.
As a result of last week’s coup, France has begun evacuating its citizens from Niger – 262 of them arrived in Paris early on Wednesday morning.
As a result of the coup, demonstrations have taken place against the former colonial power, with the French embassy being attacked.
According to France, there are no plans to repatriate about 1,000 French soldiers stationed there as part of its counter-Islamist militant operations.
As Italy organized a flight with 87 evacuees which arrived in Rome just after 5:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Germany has urged its citizens to take up France’s offer to help other Europeans.
According to Reuters, the plane was carrying 36 Italians, 21 Americans and one Briton.
It has been warned that any attempt to restore the ousted president by force would be seen as an act of war by the juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali.
After staging their own coups in recent years, both countries, also former French colonies, are turning away from France and toward Russia.
An Islamist militant insurgency in a region battling a volatile situation may be exacerbated by their warning.
On Wednesday, West African military chiefs are meeting in Nigeria to discuss possible interventions in Niger.
The military government of Niger has announced that its borders will be reopened with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, and Chad. Nigeria remains closed on its land border, however.
As a key Western ally in the fight against jihadist extremism in the Sahel, Niger has been rich in uranium. There are military bases there for both France and the United States.
France moved its counterterrorism operations to Niger in 2021 after Mali’s military leaders partnered up with the Russian Wagner mercenaries.
Protesters chanted “Long live Russia”, “Long live Putin” and “Down with France” outside the French embassy in Niamey on Sunday.
The embassy compound’s walls were also set ablaze.
The closure of Niger’s airspace has prevented people from leaving on their own.
In Niger, there are approximately 600 French nationals and less than 100 Germans.
There are about 90 Italians in Niamey out of just under 500 in the whole country, most of them in the military.
It was reported that Niamey was in a calm state of affairs.
A French evacuee, Anthony Garcia, said he was packing as little as possible for the trip: “We can only take a small bag with essentials, as suitcases are not allowed.”
On Sunday, Ecowas issued an ultimatum to Niger’s junta, giving them one week to reinstate elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been confined to the presidential palace in Niamey.
On the following day, President Mahamat Idris Déby led mediation efforts on behalf of the Ecowas in Niger and was pictured with Mr Bazoum.
As a result of these diplomatic moves, Burkina Faso and Mali issued a joint statement threatening that if Ecowas intervened militarily, they would withdraw from the bloc and defend their eastern neighbor.
An intervention of this nature would be catastrophic and destabilizing, they said.
Following coups in recent years, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea are currently suspended from Ecowas.
Ecowas’ last major military intervention was in The Gambia in 2017, when Yahya Jammeh refused to step down as president.