Can what failed in Mali succeed in Niger?

Tense security situation: Nigerian women and soldiers during German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visit to Ouallam on April 14
Image: dpa

People are fleeing terror and violence, and yet Niger is seen as an anchor of stability in the region. Can the Sahel be pacified from here? On site, it becomes clear that the challenges are great.

BLooking at the raging children playing hide and seek in the middle of the tent landscape, Hadjara smiles. The sun shines with full force on the thatched roof of the open hut in which the Nigre woman is sitting with three other women from the village. It took a while for Hadjara to smile again, at least during the day when the scars on her back are covered by the colorful floral fabric of her floor-length robe. But at the latest when it gets dark, the nightmares come back.

The bandits invaded her home village of Inatès near the Malian border three times, Hadjara says. The first two times they looted whatever there was to loot, and they wanted to take all the young, healthy men with them. The village elders refused extradition. So the gunmen on their motorcycles came a third time, this time in full force and without mercy, shooting and beating everyone they could get their hands on. Hadjara watched as they cut the throats of the village elders, one of them her own father. Then she fled.

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