September 28, 2023
International Safe Abortion Day: Progress in Mexico, setbacks in the USA
While Niger was already affected by various crises, the coup d’état of July 26, 2023, which overthrew the government of President Mohamed Bazoum, worsened an already extremely worrying situation.
Year after year, Niger faces recurring cycles of humanitarian crisis, primarily affecting women, children and internally displaced populations, migrants and refugees. With the current situation, it is estimated that in 2023, 3.3 million Nigeriens will be affected by severe food insecurity and that an additional 7.3 million people (about 28% of the population) will be food insecure.
While the country has to deal with the situation of food insecurity, the political crisis, the economic sanctions and the surge in prices that followed, coincide with the annual lean season, which increases the risk of food shortages. The rainy season also accentuates health precariousness and food insecurity on the national territory.
“Faced with a fragile and demanding security and health context, our first priority in the field remains ensuring access to care for people in vulnerable situations,” says Dr Toupou Lancinet, Doctors of the World General Coordinator in Niger.
It is in this context that Doctors of the World continues its work with the populations of Niger in order to ensure access to care for the most precarious populations, in particular women, children, migrants and displaced populations.
Border closures and financial restrictions have led to a shortage of essential medicines, putting the health of the most vulnerable at risk. Growing insecurity is hampering the movement of healthcare teams and hindering people’s access to healthcare services, in addition to deteriorating the mental health of those exposed.
Despite the fragile security context and the closure of borders, people in a migratory situation continue to be expelled from Algeria to Niger. Since July 26, 2023, more than 500 deported migrants have been supported by Doctors of the World in Agadez, through the provision of medicines and paramedical products to health district personnel.
Women and children bear the full brunt of the economic and social deterioration linked to the current situation in the country, leading to a high risk of increasing gender inequalities, gender-based violence and obstacles to accessing health services, in particular sexual and reproductive health.
Sub-regional and international economic sanctions will have a major impact on populations already facing a chronic crisis. Malnutrition analysis predicts nearly 1.9 million children aged 6-59 months suffering from acute malnutrition this year.
Strengthening access to health care and protection for the most vulnerable
Doctors of the World has determined that the regions of Tillabéri (Torodi), Tahoua, Maradi and Diffa, as well as the border area between Burkina Faso and Niger, are particularly vulnerable. Marked by a constant climate of insecurity, humanitarian aid struggles to reach these regions, leaving vulnerable populations without access to life-saving care. Local health centers and schools also struggle to remain open due to the growing tensions. After battling the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an epidemic of cholera and avian flu, socio-sanitary conditions have further deteriorated. Protection also remains a growing issue, as vulnerable populations (i.e. women and children) are particularly exposed to the risk of violence, especially gender-based violence (GBV).
In the region of Tahoua, and Tillabéri (in collaboration with Plan International), Doctors of the World enables vulnerable people, and in particular victims of conflict and survivors of gender-based violence, to benefit from health care related to sexual and reproductive care and psychological support. The organization also raises awareness of the risks of violence, and provides information on ways to prevent and protect against it via early warning mechanisms. So far 20,500 have been sensitized to GBV and child protection and over 8,000 consultations have been provided for children under 5 years old.
In the border area between Burkina Faso and Niger, the organization promotes access to health care, hygiene, sanitation and the fight against malnutrition for the most vulnerable (especially among agricultural populations and pastorals). Doctors of the World also aims to strengthen the social cohesion of communities. We further carry out advocacy work to enable these vulnerable people to have access to services (health care, psychological support) and to ensure that their rights are respected.