update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
Niger has been in the news this month.
There were several reports about the migrant situation north and east
of Agades and its impact on the economy and security of the region.
The IOM migration statistics for July came available and showed a
slight margin of exiting migrants to returning migrants from Libya,
(contrary to some press reports) but at rather low levels. It should
be remembered that these statistics come from monitored points and
it is not clear how many migrants are avoiding the monitoring points,
and crossing the open desert.
Other reports came in on the lack of security in the far eastern region
near Dirkou, and the number of bandits operating in that area. On
the northern frontier with Algeria, there was one report of a number
of migrants arriving at Assamakka, who were handled by the IOM.
In Agades itself, several reports described the new and surprisingly
expensive US base for drones. Its progress can clearly be seen on
“Google Earth”, but some actual site pixs were also published.
The US also announced a grant of 437m$ via the “Millennium Challenge
Some US senators indicated that the continuance of this grant would
depend on the actions of the Niger government to continue ensuring
the democratic process. This grant is in addition to the funds provided
by the UN (1.16b$ over 3 three years) to help stop the flow of migrants.
In the south, quite close to Niamey a new gold find has attracted
thousands of artisanal gold minors to the area around Kafa-Koira.
There is a video on “You-tube”.
The dispute over payment of taxes by the public media continues and
several publications have not resumed distribution after government
action earlier this year.
There was one report of a rebel incident near Inates in the west near
Mali, and another near Diffa involving Boko Harem in the southeast
near Lake Tchad.
An epidemic of cholera in Niger has affect 800 people and caused some
More information on this year’s inundations in Niger has become
available. The death toll is up to 36, with 130,000 homes damaged
or destroyed and an estimated 31,000 cattle lost. (This last figure
These annual inundations caused a collapse of part of the Agades to
Niamey road, (which had been the subject of complaints earlier this
year), flooded In-Gall and a mosque collapsed in Agades, causing two
deaths. (Not the main mosque featured in the tourist brochures.).
Iferouane and Tabelot also had flood and rain damage. Transport of
Uranium Ore out of Arlit had to be suspended.
No new real news was published on any of the western hostages, but
the son of Sophia Petronin (taken in Mali, but the son was visiting
Niamey) hope to see her soon.
The UK plans to open an embassy in Niger: the first for many, many
The news from Mali this month is completely different from previous
Almost no news reports were published about rebel incidents or attacks
in the north. Of course the press was distracted by the Mali presidential
elections in the south of the country.
“IBK”, the incumbent won re-election as president of Mali,
but only after a second round and with a reported 65% of the vote.
The opposition groups are naturally complaining, and there are demonstrations.
But by the region’s standards this was a reasonable election
process. IBK then left for a visit to China: presumably to raise some
The other main event this month was the publication of a lengthy UN
report outlining the situation in northern Mali and effectively accusing
some of the peace agreement signatories of breaking the agreement.
This document (in English!) is available from several sources. Search
for “N1823298” and you can easily find it. It also provides
an excellent summary of the main rebel groups and pro and anti-government
militias in Mali, which are of surprising number and complexity.
The IOM statistics for Mali in July are also now available and show
a small margin of northern outbound migrants. The overall traffic
is low, probably due to the difficulties in Algeria for migrants.
Flows across the other borders are not significant. Of course, as
for Niger, this only counts migrants at monitoring points.
Towards the end of August reports came in of the death of one of the
leaders of the “EGIS” rebel group, Mohamed Ag Almouner,
by the French army near Menaka. (For details of this group see the
report referenced above).
As the period ended floods were reported in Asongo (in eastern Mali
near Niger), with some fatalities.
After many years of relative quiet in Tchad, another rebel movement
has emerged in the north and this time with a significant attack on
the garrison at Kouri Bougoudi near the Libyan border in early August.
The rebels claim that 73 soldiers were captured including three officers
(named), and 43 soldiers were killed against 4 deaths on the rebel
side. The government account indicates far less deaths and captured
soldiers and more casualties on the rebel side.
The rebel group was the CCSMR (Conseil du commandement militaire pour
le salut de la République), which is based, in southern Libya:
after the attack this group claimed that it would advance Zouar and
Faya and recapture the whole north region, which seems ambitious....
This group also claimed a second attack on the 21st August at another
unspecified garrison location which the government denies.
But whatever the figures, the Tchad government moved quickly, first
by banning all artisanal mining in the north (including Miski which
is some distance from the Libyan border), claiming these were a source
of mercenaries for the rebels, and also all such mining in the south
near Batha, east of the capital. This later ban caused a protest from
the local leaders, pointing out that they were not involved in the
rebellion in the north.
The Tchad government subsequently moved troops and helicopters (possibly
the ones purchased with pilots from the Ukraine) to the north and
specifically Faya: one report put them in the Kouri area and that
they had already taken offensive action at Miski.
Another report indicated that after these attacks, Tchad accused France
(!!!) of supplying the rebels on the grounds that the weapons captured
from them, and from Boko Harem, were French. This claim was apparently
later withdrawn. Other reports indicate that civilians near Zouar
allegedly attacked elements of Chad's National Guard to protest against
the assassination of one of their members by an element of GNNT. Another
report indicated that that the CCSMR is merely a grouping of several
other groups (such as the FACT group which was active last year).
But all these reports vary.
Meanwhile negotiations between government functionaries and the Tchad
government continue over the asserted failure of the government to
uphold its side of the agreement signed in March, and around Lake
Tchad fishermen who were taking advantage of the recent downturn of
Boko Harem activity to increase their sales, protested against the
new security regulations.
No updates are available on Migrant traffic from the IOM for Tchad
for the month of July.
The measles outbreak continues in Tchad with some 400 cases including
14 deaths. The refugee issue in Tchad remains serious, with some 300,000
in the east near the Sudan, 130,000 in the south near the CAR, and
some 200,000 near Lake Tchad.
At the end of August a major attack by Boko Harem was reported at
Zari south of Diffa near Lake Tchad (but in Nigeria) at which some
30 Nigeria soldiers were killed. Some reports put the casualties higher.