UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, has expressed concern about the reported “deplorable living conditions” of the president of Niger in arbitrary detention. UN Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Mr Farhan Haq, said this at a news conference in New York on Thursday.
President Mohamed Bazoum and his family are believed to be living without electricity, water, food or medicine, according to media reports.
The democratically elected leader has been detained since soldiers seized power on 26 July.
“The secretary-general reiterates his concern for the health and safety of the president and his family and once again calls for his immediate and unconditional release and reinstatement as head of state,” he said.
Guterres was also alarmed over continuing reports about the arrest of several members of the government and urgently called for their unconditional release.
According to him, the UN supports mediation efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards restoring constitutional order in Niger.
EThe News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ECOWAS heads of state and government have agreed to continue the dialogue option while not dismantling the existing sanctions taken at the last summit.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, said this at the end of the second extraordinary summit on the political situation in the Niger Republic on Thursday in Abuja. He said the military chiefs of the region had also been given further directive to activate the standby force to serve as a last option in restoring the constitutional government of Bazoum.
He said ECOWAS would need the support of partner countries and institutions, including the UN on the restoration of peace and stability in the sub-region.
In a related development, the UN fears the crisis in Niger could impact the wider West African region and continues to underscore the need to ensure ongoing humanitarian support for about 4.3 million people in the country.
This week, the World Food Programme (WFP) assisted more than 12,000 people in the Maradi region in south-central Niger, Haq said on Thursday. Heavy rains and floods continue across the country which have affected about 38,000 people since June, and the government and aid organisations are ramping up efforts to support them.
“Humanitarian partners are struggling with low stocks of supplies, due to the impact of closures of the border and the air space. “This situation may affect food assistance for 2.8 million people in the coming months,” Haq said.
He added that the UN had obtained authorisations from the de facto authorities to carry out four flights by the UN Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) from the capital, Niamey, to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to temporarily relocate 49 family dependents. UNHAS flights had been temporarily suspended following the attempted coup in Niger because the air space was closed, along with territorial borders. (NAN)