Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Steps in to Aid Civilians in Niger Amidst Military Escalation

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Steps in to Aid Civilians in Niger Amidst Military Escalation

In response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Liptako Gourma region, which encompasses Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) established operations in Niger in March 2019. Additionally, operations were set up in the southern region of the country to provide support to the influx of refugees from Nigeria.

With the current military escalation, the humanitarian crisis is expected to worsen, raising concerns among NRC and other organizations. Jan Egeland, Secretary General of NRC, expresses deep concern over the situation, stating, "We cannot overstate the impact on civilians, both in terms of humanitarian and protection needs, when military imperatives take precedence over civilian governance. Niger has the youngest and one of the poorest populations on Earth. Already prior to the coup, one in six people needed humanitarian assistance."

To address the pressing needs of affected populations, NRC is taking various measures on the ground. Here are the key ways NRC is providing assistance:

1. Legal Assistance: NRC's information, counseling, and legal assistance program focuses on internally displaced people and refugees who have sought shelter in Niger from Mali, Nigeria, and other countries. The program aids individuals and families in accessing their rights by resolving issues related to housing, land, and legal identity, particularly for children born in refugee camps. Furthermore, the program supports vulnerable Nigeriens who host those displaced from their homes. In 2022 alone, NRC's legal experts helped 12,202 individuals obtain birth certificates, while 16,502 people benefited from awareness-raising sessions on civil documentation and land property rights.

2. Education: NRC plays a vital role in advocating for the right to education for children and young people who have been forcibly displaced. The organization provides basic formal education and education in emergencies. Moreover, NRC facilitates access to alternative schooling for certain children and offers education and training programs to young people to enhance their employability. NRC constructs classrooms, supplies teaching materials, equips classrooms with necessary furniture, and ensures that students receive the psychosocial support they need. For children and young people who have missed out on education, NRC's program offers intensive courses to help them catch up with their peers. In 2022, NRC's education team supported over 31,000 children and young people. Furthermore, through specialized teacher training programs provided by NRC, close to 200,000 children now receive psychosocial support in their school environments.

3. Jobs and Access to Food: Many displaced individuals in Niger, as well as the communities hosting them, struggle with food insecurity. It is estimated that currently, 3.3 million people in Niger are facing acute food insecurity. To address this pressing issue, NRC distributes cash to facilitate immediate and increased access to adequate food and other essential needs. Additionally, NRC supports the revival of individual livelihoods by providing training in farming techniques, cattle rearing, and raising awareness on renewable energies and environmental protection. As a result, nearly 23,000 people were able to access food and income support through these initiatives in the past year.

The Norwegian Refugee Council's efforts in Niger are critical in providing much-needed assistance to vulnerable populations affected by the ongoing crisis. By addressing legal, educational, and livelihood needs, NRC aims to alleviate the suffering of those impacted by the military escalation. As the crisis deepens, organizations like NRC play a vital role in ensuring the well-being and protection of civilians in Niger.

Source: Norwegian Refugee Council