Mohamed Bazoum, President-elect of the Republic of Niger; Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs; Credit: MAEE

Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has reported on Minister Jean Asselborn's visit to Niamey, the capital city of Niger, on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 April 2021.

Having been invited at the personal invitation of the President-elect of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, Minister Jean Asselborn travelled to Niger with the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Jean-Yves le Drian, to participate in the formal investiture ceremony of the new elected President.

The investiture of President Bazoum, a colleague and long-time friend of Minister Asselborn, on 1 April marked the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power to Niger since its independence in 1960. Luxembourg and Niger enjoy privileged relations; Niger is one of the partner countries of Luxembourg cooperation and the Sahel has been one of the priority regions of Luxembourg foreign policy for more than 30 years.

Before the investiture ceremony, Minister Asselborn was able to meet with the outgoing President, Mahamadou Issoufou, and with the newly-elected President, Mohamed Bazoum. The head of Luxembourg’s diplomacy took the opportunity to congratulate all Nigerien actors on the electoral process and the smooth running of the first democratic alternation in history in Niger. He particularly welcomed President Bazoum's call for national unity. For his part, President Bazoum thanked Minister Asselborn and the Luxembourg government for the support that Luxembourg has provided to Niger over the years.

Luxembourg is one of the most important partners and implements many projects in Niger, particularly in the fields of education, girls' empowerment, water and sanitation and even rural development. Luxembourg's intervention is in line with the commitments of the Coalition for the Sahel and the Sahel Alliance in terms of improving basic public services for the most vulnerable in fragile regions. In addition, the emphasis is on local leadership and the development of national and local systems to deliver essential social services in an accountable, more sustainable and inclusive manner.

Minister Asselborn also took the opportunity of his trip to the Nigerien capital to visit the Luxembourg embassy in Niamey, which enabled him to have a discussion with the embassy staff and to learn about their activities. He thanked all the staff for the work they provide on behalf of Luxembourg in Niger. 

On Friday 2 April, Minister Asselborn visited a Luxembourg Red Cross emergency shelter construction project in Niamey.

The construction of emergency shelters was implemented by the Nigerian Red Cross in cooperation with the Luxembourg Red Cross following the very heavy floods in summer 2020, which caused loss of life and damage to important materials. According to the official report, more than 350,000 people were affected and 35,000 houses collapsed. In addition, more than 7,000 hectares of dune crops and over 3,000 ha of irrigated crops were submerged by the water. These floods, described as exceptional, are said to be a direct consequence of climate change but also of the silting up of the Niger River.

Minister Asselborn took the opportunity of his visit to exchange views with the President of the Nigerian Red Cross, Ali Bandiare, and with the many volunteers. The entire site - which is home to 700 families, or 3,000 people in all - is run by Red Cross volunteers.

Minister Asselborn expressed all his solidarity and compassion, as well as that of the Luxembourg people, to the friendly people of Niger for this difficult and exceptional situation following the floods. He warmly thanked the volunteers of the Nigerian Red Cross, who, thanks to the support of the Luxembourg Red Cross International Aid, were able to react quickly and build these emergency shelters.

The partnership between Luxembourg and the Nigerian Red Cross is a solidary partnership”, underlined the Minister, before adding “with a view to continuing its humanitarian support in Niger, Luxembourg will give pride of place to strengthening the capacities of the Nigerien Red Cross so that it can become an even more effective actor in the service of vulnerable populations”.

It is with this in mind that the Luxembourg Cooperation provided financial support to the Nigerian Red Cross to build these 400 emergency shelters as well as the provision of latrines to improve sanitation, and provide a framework more decent life for people who have lost all their possessions.