France prepares to evacuate citizens from Niger

While France has announced it is planning to evacuate its citizens from Niger following last week's coup, Belgium doesn't intend to follow suit for the time being. The Foreign Affairs ministry is aware of 90 Belgians on the consular register in Niger, as well as around 20 who have reported their presence via the Travellers Online page, the ministry said on Tuesday. 

“Their safety is a priority for us,” a ministry spokesperson said, adding that the situation was relatively calm. The ministry is “in contact with the parties concerned to assess the situation”. Any evacuation would take into account whether people wish to leave, the security situation, and the possibility of joining the French operation.

Last week, a coup led by General Abdourahamane Tiani overthrew the elected president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum. Amid significant anti-French sentiment and following an attack on its embassy in Niamey, France is preparing to evacuate its nationals from Tuesday and has said other Europeans could be included in its operation. 

France is a former colonial power in the region and a supporter of Bazoum. Neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, also former French colonies, have both staged coups in the past few years, turning away from Western allies and towards Russia. 

Meanwhile, Italy announced on Tuesday that it was ready to remove any of its citizens wishing to leave Niger. The ministry told AFP that this was “not an evacuation” but “a special flight for those who want to leave the country”. 


Protesters cheer Nigerien troops as they gather in front of the French embassy in Niamey © AFP

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