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Humanitarian assistance to Niger continued despite coup – UN





Ms Nicole Kouassi, UN Acting Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator has said that humanitarian operations, development support, and peace programmes have continued even in the wake of the military coup in Niger.

Kouassi said this while briefing journalists on Friday in New York on the humanitarian situation in the country.

She was speaking from the capital, Niamey, just hours after the general whose troops seized the democratically elected president, declared that he was assuming control of the country.

On behalf of UN agencies on the ground, she echoed the Secretary-General’s condemnation of Wednesday’s coup against President Mohamed Bazoum, who reportedly remains in detention at his home.

Kouassi expressed concern over the current “difficult situation” in Niger, where 4.3 million people, mainly women and children, were already dependent on aid prior to the power grab.

Some 3.3 million are facing food insecurity, while a $534 million appeal is just over 30 per cent funded, she said, calling for greater support.

The UN and international aid groups have not stopped delivering amid the crisis.

However, UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights have been temporarily suspended because the air space is closed, along with the territorial borders.

“All the humanitarian partners and development partners remain engaged and committed to supporting the vulnerable population of Niger who are affected by a combination of climate issues, economic and security shocks in the context of very high humanitarian and development needs,” she said.

Kouassi was asked if UN agencies were in contact with the military, but she said no, stressing that they do not have political mandates.

She was also asked if there were any warning signs ahead of the coup, or if the UN officials had seen personnel from the Russian private military company Wagner Group in Niger.

Kouassi answered no to both questions.

Meanwhile, Jean-Noel Gentile, Country Director for the World Food Programme (WFP) affirmed that “humanitarian response continues on the ground and has never stopped”.

WFP is providing both cash assistance and food assistance in Niger and will continuously assess the situation to ensure its staff and partners can safely access people in need.

“Only if security is an issue, we will temporarily possibly suspend certain operations in certain areas. But this is not currently the case,” he said.

The crisis could potentially affect the humanitarian response in the wider region, which continues to face impacts from conflict, drought, insecurity and other challenges.

Gentile said WFP recently established a logistics hub in Niamey as a transit point for hard-to-reach areas in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, which are only accessible through Niger.


The agency has also been facilitating delivery of humanitarian aid to Chad, which is now hosting hundreds of thousands fleeing the conflict in Sudan, “so the closure of the borders will temporarily suspend this vital cross-border logistics support.”

As a result, WFP is examining the possibility of alternative routes.

Also, the UN refugee agency, (UNHCR), has not witnessed “any particular movements” related to the coup, Emmanuel Gignac, Deputy Representative in Niger, said.

UNHCR monitors regular movements of internally displaced people in Niger, or refugee flows from Burkina Faso, Mali and northwest Nigeria.

“No early signs were noticed,” she said. “We woke up in the morning and we were faced with the situation. And as of now, no sign of Wagner from the UN perspective.”


3 teens arrested in Germany for allegedly plotting terror attack




German authorities have arrested three teenagers aged 15 and 16 on suspicion of plotting a deadly Islamist terrorist attack in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prosecutors said on Friday.

The state’s Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW) sought an arrest warrant for the teenagers over the Easter holiday.

They were suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in accordance with the aims and ideology of (extremist militia organisation) Islamic State.

The detained suspects are a 15-year-old girl from Dusseldorf, a 16-year-old girl from the Märkischer Kreis district and a 15-year-old boy from the Soest district, located about 100 kilometres to the east of Dusseldorf.

A fourth suspect has reportedly been identified in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the local court there has issued an arrest warrant.

According to the investigators, the teenagers are accused of having agreed to commit murder and manslaughter.

This is in conjunction with the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state.


The presumption of innocence applied in all stages of the proceedings.

Security sources told newsmen that the young people had formed a chat group, but had not drawn up a concrete attack plan for a particular time and place.

However, sources said the cities of Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne were discussed as targets, and attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on people in churches or police officers in police stations had been considered.

The sources said authorities had also conducted searches as part of the investigation.

A machete and a dagger were seized in Dusseldorf, but no evidence of the construction of incendiary devices was discovered.

Sources said the father of the Dusseldorf suspect had already attracted attention from authorities in the past because he had allegedly collected donations for the Islamic State.

The investigators declined to reveal how the suspected terrorists were tracked down, but said that foreign intelligence agencies “did not play a role.”

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election




Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.


Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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