UN chief concerned over living conditions of Niger president, detention of officials

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday voiced his concerns regarding reports that the Niger president is being held under deplorable conditions and that additional government members have been detained.

Members of the Presidential Guard reportedly hold President Mohamed Bazoum and his family without access to water, food, medicine or electricity, said Farhan Haq, the secretary-general's deputy spokesman.

"The secretary-general reiterates his concern over the health and safety of the president and his family and once again calls for his immediate, unconditional release and his reinstatement as head of state," Haq said.

The Presidential Guard took control on July 26, detaining Bazoum and his family.

The spokesman said Guterres is also alarmed over continuing reports about the arrest of several government members and urgently calls for their unconditional release and strict adherence to Niger's international human rights obligations.

However, Haq said there has been no letup in UN efforts to provide relief for the people of Niger. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports aid operations continue.

OCHA said the World Food Programme assisted more than 12,000 people with food in the south-central Maradi region of Niger this week.

A man checks items on display at the main market in Niamey, Niger, August 8, 2023. /CFP
A man checks items on display at the main market in Niamey, Niger, August 8, 2023. /CFP

A man checks items on display at the main market in Niamey, Niger, August 8, 2023. /CFP

Haq said that since the beginning of the rainy season that started in June, 38,000 people have been affected by continuing heavy rains and floods across the country. The government and humanitarian organizations are ramping up efforts to support affected people.

"Humanitarian partners are struggling with low stocks of supplies, due to the impact of closures of the border and the air space," he said. "This situation may affect food assistance for 2.8 million people in the coming months."

The spokesman said the Niger-Burkina Faso UN team reported the Niger de facto authorities authorized the UN Humanitarian Air Service to carry out four flights from the Niger capital of Niamey to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso to relocate family dependents.

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(Cover: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks about the Black Sea grain corridor at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., July 17, 2023. /CFP)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency

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