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Niger cancels partnership with EU on illegal migration

Coup leaders have claimed that the relevant legislation was passed without considering its negative consequences

Niger’s military government announced on Monday that it had repealed an anti-migration law that made it illegal to transport migrants through the West African country to Europe. The decision was motivated by the harmful nature of the legislation, it said.

The move comes as Niger’s new rulers, who took power in a July coup, review the country’s ties with its former Western allies.

Considered a major transit point on the Central Mediterranean route for migrants from Western Africa, Niger became a key partner for the EU in 2015 following the passage of the law, in the midst of a migrant crisis in Europe.

In the same year, the European Union Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), endowed with €5 billion ($5.5 billion), was launched to address the root causes of irregular movement to the EU via the Sahel and North Africa.

According to the EUTF, Niger received around €85 million in budget support in 2022 to assist the government in bolstering migration institutions, among other things.

The law had been credited with reducing the number of migrants passing through Niger to the EU, but it had also been criticized for hurting the local cross-border economy, particularly in the Agadez region.

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In a statement on Monday, the Nigerien military government claimed that the law had been ratified under the “influence of certain foreign powers” and without regard for its “harmful” consequences.

[The decision] was taken in flagrant contradiction with our community rules and did not take into account the interests of Niger and its citizens,” coup leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani stated.

The EU Council recently approved a framework for sanctioning Niger’s military rulers in order to persuade them to restore constitutional order and hand back power to ousted President Mohammed Bazoum. The measures include freezing assets and prohibiting the transfer of funds to individuals and entities, as well as imposing a travel ban on members of the newly installed government.

The bloc’s member states, notably Spain and Italy, are struggling to contain a record number of migrants, and Brussels previously suspended aid and security cooperation with Niger in response to the coup.

November 28, 2023 at 07:29PM

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