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[News] The evacuation operation of French and European nationals from Niger. Smoothly. Latest review (v5)

(B2) Triggered on Monday night (July 31), the evacuation operation began. Led mainly by France, with Italy. For the benefit of other European nationals present on site.

A330 and MRTT aircraft at the Istres base (Marseille) (Photo: BA25 / DICOD)

Goal : " facilitate the departure of nationals wishing to leave Niger ". If the French are concerned in priority, all Europeans who wish can also be evacuated by French means. The Germans (less than 100), Belgians and Dutch (about 25) should in particular be evacuated by this route.

White and gray planes only

Two A330 type planes - one in the passenger version, the other in the MRTT version - have already landed at Niamey's civil airport: the first from 2:30 am on the night of Monday to Tuesday. Another plane is on its way. Three planes departing from South of France “indicated the staff of the armies (NB: from the air base 25 of Istres normally).

The operation was carried out with the agreement of the authorities in place, that is to say essentially the soldiers who carried out the coup. " Contacts have been made with the Nigerien forces and the Nigeriens responsible for the airport we say in Paris.

On board, aircraft crews only. The French soldiers present on the spot - on the military part of the airport - serve as support and coordination. But nationals must reach the airport by their own means ».

NB: a “light” device which deliberately contrasts with that used for the evacuation from Sudan. The objective is indeed to proceed smoothly to avoid anything that could appear as a provocation. Khaki strategic transport (A400M) or tactical (C130J) aircraft are therefore banned (for the moment). The military will therefore not go to collect nationals in town either.

The attack on the embassy is a trigger

It was largely the events of Sunday (July 30) with the violent demonstrations and the attack on the French Embassy, ​​as well as the closure of airspace, which changed the watchword in Paris, making favor a rapid evacuation of nationals.

The hardening of the tone between the junta in power in Niamey on the one hand, ECOWAS and the Europeans on the other, like the arrests of several officials of the legitimate government of Niger have only confirmed this option. Operation announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna and a communicated from the Quai d'Orsay on Tuesday August 1st.

A European watchword

A watchword concerted and followed at European level. Several capitals (Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Brussels, The Hague, Vienna) have thus advised their nationals to leave without delay.

Triggered overnight from Sunday to Monday (July 31), the French operation was mounted from the device present in Africa. It is notably coordinated from the French elements deployed in Chad which ensure the regional command.

Italian means are planned. The Italian government has offered to its fellow citizens present in Niamey the possibility of leaving the city by a special flight to Italy confirmed Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Twitter.

No evacuation of soldiers, for the moment

The evacuation of the 1500 French soldiers present in the country - in particular in Niamey and in the zone of the three borders (with Mali and Burkina) is however " not planned at the moment ” indicates the staff of the French armies. On the other hand, all partnership operations are “ suspended”. This, "waiting for the return of constitutional order ". They " are [in fact] part of an agreement with the legitimate authorities »


First returnees to Paris and Rome

Two first flights have already landed at Roissy Charles de Gaulle (Paris) on Tuesday night (August 1), allowing the evacuation of 350 French people and nationals of around ten nationalities (Austria, Belgium, Canada, USA, Portugal , Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Niger) announces the Quai d'Orsay, Wednesday morning. Two other thefts took place on Wednesday (August 2). A fifth and final flight took place on Thursday (August 3), bringing the total of evacuees to 1079 people: 577 French nationals and nearly 500 foreign nationals of 50 different nationalities. One of the flights was medicalized by civil security doctors in order to take care of medical cases.

Europeans from almost all of Europe (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Finland, Romania, Denmark, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Georgia, United Kingdom) were able to return to the mainland. Nationals from Africa (Benin, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Mauritania, Togo, Tunisia), from America (United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Bahamas), Asia (India, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea), Oceania (Australia) and the Middle East (Lebanon, Turkey, Turkey) were also evacuated.

On the Italian side, a Boeing 767 fromAeronautica Militare landed in Rome, Wednesday (August 2) morning, with 87 people on board: 36 Italians (including the Italian ambassador in Niamey), 21 Americans (including 14 religious), 4 Bulgarians, 2 Austrians, 1 Hungarian, 1 Nigerian , 1 Nigerien and 1 Senegalese according to the agency Handle.

European personnel have also been repatriated. The evacuation has gone smoothly so far (see also: [Comment] A less complex operation than in Sudan and Afghanistan).

An evacuation supported by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. This will thus finance 75% of the transport costs of France, which has requested the activation of the mechanism.

A " simple and pragmatic cooperation in times of crisis, which shows what Europe can do together commented German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, thanking her French counterpart C. Colonna.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Updated - Details for the evacuation of the Italians and Dutch - First assessment of the repatriated people (2.8 morning) - Photo gallery - European support (2.8 noon) - second assessment and final assessment (3.8)

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).

One thought on “[News] The evacuation operation of French and European nationals from Niger. Smoothly. Latest review (v5)"

  • All the same – a posteriori – it will be necessary to understand why the French Government organized this “strategic re-positioning” so lightly in a country whose political structures have proven to be confoundingly fragile and vulnerable. In particular why, this Government decided to transfer to Niger part of the contingent installed in Senegal where resides an important French and bi-national community.

    It is a pity that no report is able to update the Russian-Wagnerian involvement not only in the coup itself but also in the anti-French street demonstrations.

    It would also be useful to recall that the first mission of the French contingent in Niger, in Central Africa, etc. was to stop the advance of Islamic terrorism. Due to the lack of possible cooperation with the local forces, this mission effectively failed. but wasn't that also foreseeable?

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