The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed arrived in Niger on Wednesday for the second stop of her “solidarity visit” to West Africa and the Sahel.
There are several site visits planned for this leg of the mission, but most meetings will be held virtually, in line with COVID-19 protocols. On her first day in Niger, Ms. Mohammed met by video conference with President Mahamadou Issoufou, whose term expires at the end of the year.
Corniche de Yantala is a district by the river where many people make their living through fishing. Devastating floods have displaced and disrupted this community.— Amina J Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed) November 13, 2020
The @UN is working with the Government of #Niger on taking climate action to safeguard lives and livelihoods. pic.twitter.com/q5PWnJjxoA
Elected for the first time in 2011, Mr. Issoufou also won the 2016 presidential election. The Nigerien constitution limiting the number of presidential terms to two, he decided not to stand for the upcoming polls. Niger must choose a new Head of State in December 2020.
The Deputy Secretary-General welcomed on Twitter the commitment of Mr. Issoufou who, she said, “is on the verge of ensuring a peaceful transition within the framework of free and fair elections”.
Meanwhile, Niger faces many challenges, including coping with the insecurity that plagues its neighbours in Africa’s vast Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes, along with Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and parts of Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Niger must also manage the many African migrants who transit through its territory in the north in the hope of reaching Europe or who return to their countries of origin.
The country also had to cope with the effects of the worst floods it has seen since 2012. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 73 people have died in floods and torrential rains that have displaced more of 632,000 individuals.
The bad weather also destroyed more than 50,700 houses, killed more than 19,000 head of cattle and damaged more than 18,200 hectares of farmland.
Ms. Mohammed went to the commune of Gamou, located about 15 kilometres from the capital Niamey, where she saw the damage caused by the flooding. There, she spoke with the heads of the villages affected by the floods. She also visited a site set up for the resettlement of displaced people.
Spotlight on women and young people
During a virtual meeting with young Nigerien leaders, including women leaders, the UN deputy chief discussed progress and challenges in the implementation and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Niger. At the heart of the discussions: innovations driven by young people and the empowerment of women.
Ms. Mohammed also discussed the socio-economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and humanitarian and security issues.
In addition, she spoke with traditional leaders in Niger, including those working with the UN to advance peace and security, human rights, the promotion of birth registration, vaccinations and universal access to education, especially for girls, inclusion women and the elimination of child marriage.
Ahead of the annual 16-day campaign of activism to end violence against women which will begin on 25 November, the Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the work of United Nations partners working with Spotlight, the joint UN-European Union to end violence against women and girls.
Ms. Mohammed also met with the UN country team in Niger, which is working on several fronts. “Strong initiatives (are) underway to respond to and recover from multiple crises - health, conflicts, humanitarian, climatic and socio-economic – affecting everyone, everywhere,” she said.
Meetings with the Prime Minister and other representatives of the Nigerien Government were also on the programme of the Deputy Secretary General’s visit.