UN resumes humanitarian flights in Niger
November 15, 2023 07:07 PM
The United Nations said it resumed humanitarian flights in Niger on Wednesday, suspended after a July coup in the country where more than four million people are in need of aid.
"The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) resumes domestic flights on Wednesday," the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, told AFP in Niger's capital, Niamey.
OCHA's office in Geneva said late Tuesday that the resumption of domestic flight operations follows the lifting of restrictions on domestic flights, imposed after military leaders ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
It will enable monthly deliveries of nearly 2.4 tonnes of medical supplies to resume, as well as medical evacuations and those of humanitarian staff, the UN agency said.
It said, however, it anticipated encountering difficulties in refuelling its planes.
The UN flights will bring supplies to large, far-flung regions, such as Diffa in the south east, where thousands of Nigerian refugees and Nigeriens have fled to escape jihadist violence.
Niger has been subject to heavy economic sanctions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since the military overthrow of its democratically elected leader.
Humanitarian sources say large amounts of freight destined for Niger remain blocked at the port of Cotonou in neighbouring Benin, an ECOWAS member whose border with Niger was closed after the coup.
As well as the sanctions, the coup was condemned by several Western countries, many of which cut their development aid to Niger.
Despite the ban on its flights, the UN maintained its operations in Niger after the coup where around 4,3 million people depend on humanitarian aid.