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Nigeriens voice optimistic, skeptical during visit to Blinken

Secretary of State Anthony Brinken visited Niger, pledging humanitarian assistance to displaced people and support for the country’s efforts to combat violent extremism.

Residents of the capital Niamey interviewed by VOA had mostly positive opinions about the first visit by the US Secretary of State.

“Today we see how US forces in Niger territory are training their defense and security forces,” a woman from Niamey told VOA’s France-to-Africa service. said it should not be limited to security.

“There are some opportunities for cooperation when it comes to climate change. There is clean water and so much more,” she said.

Chancellor Blinken used the visit to announce an additional $150 million in humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of fragile West Africa, Central Africa and the Sahel.

Beyond immediate assistance to refugees and other vulnerable groups, the United States is committed to investing in the region’s long-term stability, Brinken said.

The U.S. is committed to helping Niger’s law enforcement agencies fight terrorism, strengthen border security, strengthen anti-narcotics capabilities, stop human trafficking, and investigate, prosecute, and ultimately reduce terrorism and violent extremism. We will help them become more effective in helping,” said Blinken at a joint press conference. His Nigerian counterpart in Niamey.

The United States maintains military personnel at two air bases in Niger and has assisted the Nigerien Armed Forces with training, equipment donations, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to combat violent extremism.

Another Niamey resident interviewed by VOA said the donation of military equipment was helpful but urged caution on political leaders.

“Our leaders have to be very vigilant about the terms of these powers and signed contracts because they really have no friends,” he said. Some may be ravenier and petite than others, but as a civil society we have a duty to ask our leaders to be very clairvoyant.”

Another person interviewed said he could understand the implications of US involvement in the security situation.

“Well, in Niger’s relations with the United States, it was visibly evident and they helped us out,” she told VOA. It is a case and I am grateful for the relationship between the United States and Niger.”

Niger is at the forefront of escalating violence and fighting in the western Sahel, said Joseph Siegle, research director at the Center for African Strategic Studies. The country saw a 43% increase in violent incidents in 2022, but a halving of deaths, he said, according to ACSS.

While neighboring Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad have experienced coups and political upheavals, Niger has maintained a functioning democracy.

“Niger is now the linchpin for stability in the Sahel region, much better than its neighbors. It has a more democratic government. So let’s not forget that there is a lot of chaos in governance,” Siegle said.

“In comparison, Niger is a stable island. This is important for reversing the unstable trend seen in the Sahel. came.”

One Niamey resident was skeptical of Brinken’s visit, lamenting the inequality in relations between the United States and Niger.

“I say it’s a subordination relationship because the United States has generally always been on top since the end of World War II,” he told VOA. can deal with you, but not on an equal footing.”

The story begins with VOA’s French-to-Africa service. VOA’s diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine contributed to the report.

https://www.voanews.com/a/nigeriens-voice-optimism-skepticism-during-blinken-visit-/7009368.html Nigeriens voice optimistic, skeptical during visit to Blinken

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