Ethnic cleansing in Niger

The entire population of northern Niger’s remote desert town of Iferouane has fled, a local official told BBC last week. Deputy mayor Mohammed Oumma said 5,000 residents were displaced following army reprisals in operations against Tuareg guerillas. The government in Niamey denies that Iferouane, home to several uranium mines, has become a ghost town. (BBC, Nov. 19) President Mamadou Tandja Nov. 23 prolonged an emergency zone in Niger’s desert north region of Agadez, extending for a further three months the “state of alert” declared in August. (Reuters, Nov. 23)

The Tuareg-led Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) warned Nov. 13 that any mining contracts granted by the government were invalid and subject to attack—just days after Niamey signed a landmark deal with a Chinese company to exploit uranium. The deal grants Somina firm the right to produce 700 tons of uranium a year in 2009-2010 from the Azelik deposit, ending the production monopoly of French utility Areva. (Reuters, Nov. 13)

Our last post on the struggle in Niger.

  1. Tuaregs massacred in Niger
    Warning of a campaign of “genocide” against the Tuareg people, the rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) reports of escalating atrocities by the army in the north of the country. In a recent case, four civilians were shot execution-style at close range in the village of TchintĂ©bizguint Nov. 22.

    Our sources in the MNJ say thousands of Tuareg who have been forced to flee the towns of Iferouane and Issouf have taken refuge across the border in Algeria, where an emergency relief effort is being organized for them.

    MNJ representatives also report Niger government forces are systematically attacking the camel herds which sustain the nomadic Tuareg tribes—with army troops killing up to 100 camels in one day in November.