The events in Niger are unfolding in a rather disturbing way for Europe – as read in Origo's article on Sunday. The paper recalls that the West African country was shaken by a violent coup last summer, following which General Tiani took power. The new leadership almost immediately repealed the law against migrant smuggling, which until then had been a strong barrier to the outbreak of migration from Africa.
The decision threatens with a humanitarian crisis: a migration wave could hit Europe, which may be even larger than that of 2015. The law until now had been a strong barrier to the outbreak of migration: it severely punished illegal border crossings for the purpose of migration.
Many have tried to reach Tunisia and Libya from Niger, then to continue their journey to Europe. This is the main transit route on which the inhabitants of African countries south of the Sahara migrate northward. Thus, there was a kind of demand from the overthrown leadership to keep its citizens within the country, but General Tiani has let this go. Alongside lifting sanctions, the new government has also withdrawn convictions against human traffickers and illegal immigrants, which could have strong consequences. Experts predict this foretells a wave of migration from sub-Saharan Africa that could flood the Central Mediterranean route.
With this decision, Niger has overturned an eight-year security cooperation with the European Union, within the framework of which Brussels transferred more than one billion euros to the African country to curb illegal migration. This has elevated the increasingly tense diplomatic tension with the West to a new level.