Niger: ECOWAS sanctions must not target the population

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Balima Boureima / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP

FIDH and its member organisation in Niger, ANDDH, are concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions on Niger. They urge the sub-regional institution to reconsider its sanctions to avoid exacerbating the hardships faced by the civilian population, who are the primary victims of the military overthrow.

Niamey, Dakar, Paris, 4 August 2023. On 30 July 2023, in Abuja, Nigeria, ECOWAS held its 51st extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to discuss the political situation in Niger following the military coup that occurred in the country.

At the end of this Summit, ECOWAS decided to impose multiple sanctions on Niger, including the “closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger”, “the institution of ECOWAS no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger”, “the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger”, “Freeze of assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Banks”, “the suspension of Niger from all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly, EBID and BOAD”.

“We are deeply concerned about the consequences of these sanctions, especially their impacts on the supply of essential food products, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, petroleum products, and electricity. These measures have already begun to affect the Nigerien population, who are regularly facing food and health difficulties”, declared Sita Adamou, President of ANDDH.

“We call on all parties, including the international community, to find through dialogue a way for the restoration of constitutional order, in order to spare the civilian population of Niger from further suffering”, declared Atty Drissa Traoré, Secretary-General of FIDH.

ECOWAS has imposed political and targeted sanctions, including a “Travel ban and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup attempt. [...] their family members and the civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by these military officials”. It also threatens military intervention if the dialogue were to fail. FIDH and ANDDH are concerned about the consequences of such intervention on the civilian population of Niger and reaffirm that the use of force cannot replace a political resolution of the situation.

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