President Ignazio Cassis, National Council President Irène Kälin and ICRC President Peter Maurer visit Niger
The focus will be on bilateral relations between Switzerland and Niger, international cooperation, regional issues, climate change and the humanitarian situation in the Sahel region
Niger is not only one of the most vulnerable countries in the world , but also the main transit country for migration flows from West Africa to Europe
From 7 to 9 February 2022, Ignazio Cassis will travel to the West African country of Niger, which experienced the first democratic transfer of power in its history in 2021. He will be accompanied by the president of the National Council, Irène Kälin, and the Swiss delegation will be joined in Niger by the president of the ICRC, Peter Maurer. In his presidential year, Mr Cassis is placing an emphasis on Switzerland’s close cooperation with the ICRC.
Countries of the Sahel region, a focus area of the Federal Council's sub-Saharan Africa strategy, face major challenges. Violent extremism is on the rise in the bordering regions and is adversely affecting the security situation in Niger. This is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the country, where some 3.7 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid, and is increasing poverty. Young people lack job and educational opportunities. Niger is not only one of the most vulnerable countries in the world , but also the main transit country for migration flows from West Africa to Europe.
Humanitarian aid, education and migration are also key focus areas of Mr Cassis' trip.
- In a physical rehabilitation centre in Agadez, the Swiss delegation will meet people with disabilities who are living in fragile contexts and are particularly in need of protection and support. The ICRC centre provides them with technical aids such as wheelchairs and helps them integrate in society and professional life. As set out in the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23, through its partnership with the ICRC, Switzerland aims to protect people in need and ensure compliance with international humanitarian law. With this high-ranking delegation, President Cassis is underscoring Switzerland's humanitarian tradition throughout the continent.
- In the city of Maradi, the delegation will visit an SDC project that aims to help reduce illiteracy. Around half of children in Niger do not attend school.
- A visit to a migration centre is also scheduled. Migrants in need have the opportunity to receive training and psychological counselling here. The centre is supported by Switzerland. One goal of Swiss migration policy is to help people where they live and create prospects for them locally, in order to help reduce the pressures that lead to irregular migration.
High-level contacts in Niamey
In Niamey, the Swiss delegation will meet the president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum. The focus will be on bilateral relations between Switzerland and Niger, international cooperation, regional issues, climate change and the humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. Mr Cassis will also meet the Nigerien prime minister, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, the foreign minister, Hassoumi Massoudou and other members of the government. For her part, Ms Kälin will exchange views with her counterpart, the president of the Nigerien National Assembly, Seyni Oumarou.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland.