United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres travelled to Niger from Senegal on Monday, 2 May.
In the capital, Niamey, he met President Mohamed Bazoum and thanked him for his hospitality during this period of Eid celebrations. Mr. Guterres was given The Grand Cross of the National Order of Niger by the President.
During a joint press conference, the Secretary-General commended the authorities for their efforts to address the multiple challenges the country is facing, and paid tribute to Niger’s security forces fighting terrorism and violent extremism on a daily basis.
Peace, stability and prosperity in Niger and in the Sahel region are a priority for the United Nations, he said. But as terrorist attacks continue to increase, the international community must recognize that it is not doing enough to address a multidimensional crisis the Secretary-General described as a global threat.
He called for an urgent and coordinated international mobilization to address not only the security situation, but also the root causes of the crisis — poverty, exclusion, food insecurity, climate change — that are aggravating intercommunal tensions in the region and fuelling violent extremism.
Later in the day, in a meeting with the Secretary-General, former President Mahamadou Issoufou agreed to chair a joint strategic assessment of security and development challenges in the Sahel region. This assessment, undertaken on behalf of the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and the G5 Sahel, will present proposals on how to strengthen the overall international response to the crisis in the Sahel.
The Secretary-General also held a town hall meeting with staff that afternoon.
On 3 May, he travelled to Ouallam, a town located in the tri-border area that is hosting men, women and children displaced by insecurity, as well as refugees from Mali.
Speaking directly to people there, the Secretary-General said that he will be their spokesperson to ensure they have access to the humanitarian assistance they need. This year’s humanitarian response plan for Niger is less than 9 per cent funded.
In his remarks to the press, just before leaving, the Secretary-General said Niger needs strong support for humanitarian operations, but also for development, because the best way to combat terrorism is to guarantee that people have hope, a future, and access to schools, hospitals and jobs.
He also said that Niger’s army has to be better equipped to address the terrorist threat and called for support from the international community in this area