update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
September was an eventful month for Niger.
In the south west of the country a new western hostage was taken by
an as yet unidentified Islamic rebel group: Pier Luigi Maccalli, an
Italian priest. Several nuns who were present at the time were not
abducted. No news was reported about the other western hostages and
at the time of this report no demand for a ransom was reported for
Maccalli. But in the south east there were a number of reports of
kidnapping of locals by Boko Harem, and releasing them after a payment
In the north, near Algeria, yet another 400 migrants were rescued
near the north border point of Assamakka by the IOM in early April.
After that there were no reports, unlike in August.
The work on the American drone base at Agades continues, and remote
surveillance satellite operators reported another being constructed
at Dirkou, to the north of Bilma. This is in addition to the French
base at Madama (the last post north before the Libyan border). Italy
also announced this month its intention to send troops to Niger.
The statistics for migration in August for Niger made available by
the IOM show a small net outflow to Libya and a small net inflow from
Algeria, with some 600 people moving per day on average. The flow
into and out of Algeria is under half that of the movements into and
out of Libya. The flows in and out of Nigeria to the south are approximately
The cholera epidemic continues in Niger with a reported 55 deaths
and nearly 3000 cases. More statistics on damage caused by the floods
in August became available, with now a reported 200,000 people affected
and 17,000 houses damaged. In the far south west the bridge over a
river between Niger and Benin collapsed leading to massive traffic
The rebellion in the north continues. At the beginning of the month
more incidents were reported in the far north of the country, north
of the Tibesti Mountains, involving both the rebel groups based in
Libya and artisanal gold miners. Details and dates of these conflicts
vary, but all report the use of helicopters by the Tchad army against
the rebels. Some reports also came in of other conflicts between the
gold miners and local inhabitants. Curiously there were no fresh reports
after mid-September, so either the fighting has died down or it is
not being reported.
September also brought a report that the French army was setting up
a base at Zouar and/or Wour (the reports vary: it could be both).
There is an old French base at Zouar, but only a small Bordj shows
on the satellite image at Wour. One French newspaper reported that
it was almost exactly 50 years since the French army was posted there
to quell a rebellion by the rebel group “Frolinat”. This
base at Wour would be 150 miles (by air) south east of Madama in Niger
where there is another French military base.
In yet another government reshuffle the president of Tchad Deby, replaced
his finance minister.
A new airline “Tchadia airlines” partly owned by Ethiopian
airlines announced regular scheduled flights between Ndjamena and
The IOM statistics show a surprising large migrant or refugee flow
into Zouar from the north. This is presumably caused by the fighting
there. Statistics of migrant actually crossing the border into and
out of Libya are not available. In the east there are still some 300,000
refugees from Sudan, despite the end of the main conflicts there some
For Mali it has been another quiet month in the north up near the
Algerian Frontier. The UN troops are still there with French support,
but there have been few reported incidents compared with previous
In the south a new Mali government was sworn in, and as with all new
governments, the hopes for a settlement of the ongoing conflict in
the north rose.
However, there was one reported attack on a town close to the Niger
border, Menaka, with 12 fatalities and numerous other casualties.
In a separate incident two community leaders were assassinated by
rebels on motor bikes in Kidal, and later another in Timbuctoo.
The city of Gao, on the Niger river, suffered from bad flooding in
late September from the annual rains: but the damage was limited compared
with the floods in Niger further south and east.
To the south, an agreement between two tribal groups in central Mali
has started to come apart, but there were no major incidents reported.
The IOM estimates that there are still 50,000 Mali refuges in Niger
and 50,000 Mali refugees in Mauritania, both groups presumably fleeing
from the revolt in northern Mali. It also estimates a net flow of
migrants or refugees into or from from Algeria of about 3000 for the
whole month, though the figures are less accurate than for Niger.