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[Comment] Niger: a less complex operation than in Sudan and Afghanistan. The reasons

(B2) The evacuation operation of French and European citizens is facilitated by several structural and economic factors. Five elements can explain it.

Registration of evacuees by the prevotal gendarmerie of the armies at Niamey airport (Photo: EMA COM)

The evacuation operation of French and European nationals from Niger undoubtedly seems less difficult than in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021 (read: How is the evacuation of Kabul going? One of the most complex operations in recent history) or in Sudan last April (Sagittarius, Eva Sierra…! Several rotations provided by Europeans).

First, it intervenes in an ultimately fairly peaceful context, despite real political tensions between the military junta and France and some scuffles. There is no street fighting (as in Sudan) or war at the airport gates (as in Afghanistan). There is little risk of attack or shooting against an aircraft.

Secondly, the Europeans (French and Italians in particular) have a military support point on the spot, directly at the airport. The military part of the airport - the projected air base 101 for the French force - in fact adjoins the civil airport Diori Hamani. This avoids having to send large numbers of forces to the site, in particular to ensure the protection of aircraft or personnel or quite simply to register those requesting evacuation.

Third, Niamey airport is functional and equipped to accommodate passengers. This changes from the summary aspect of the military base chosen in Sudan for the evacuation.

Fourth, the number of citizens to be evacuated is quite small – less than 1000 people of all nationalities combined – also thanks to the period (some expatriates being out of the country for the holidays).

Finally, a single country coordinates the evacuation: France, which plays the role of first entry. Most of the countries, relying on this device, did not send planes on the spot. This may seem like a detail. But this both limits the ballet of aircraft and ultimately facilitates the management of evacuations.

It should also be noted that the repetition in two years of several combined evacuation operations between the Europeans – Afghanistan August 2021, Ukraine February 2022, Sudan April 2023 – also has a significant ripple effect. The coordination mechanism between Europeans is prone to crises.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).