North Niger Conflict

North Niger Conflict

The massacre in Tchintabaraden on May 15, 1990, which was perpetrated by the military and killed around 1500 people, marked the beginning of the Tuareg rebellion in the 1990’s. This was also followed by other ethnic groups in order to know that their rights were better represented: participation in the proceeds from the exploitation of raw materials (uranium, petroleum) in their traditional areas or repatriation in the form of investments in schools, health centers, etc., overall better representation in state administration and protection of their rights, in particular water and grazing rights. The conflict was settled in 1995/96 with a peace agreement, but without all demands being implemented. Several Tuareg were then integrated into politics. Mano Dayak, the “desert prince” and Tuareg rebel leader, could no longer witness the further developments, since he was killed in a plane crash in 1995.

According to estatelearning, the renewed surveys of the Tuareg in northern Niger in 2007 are based on the same demands on the state as in the 1990’s. The Tuareg formed the “Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice” (MNJ). There were various battles between the MNJ and the Nigerien military. In August 2008, the Tuareg announced a ceasefire and repeated their demands. A state of emergency was declared and as a result, all international projects moved their branches from the north of the country. The Tuareg movement was played down by Tandja, who described the insurgents as “bandits and drug smugglers” with whom he would not enter into a dialogue.

Of course, this also meant that tourism, an important source of income in the north of Niger – also with effects on the other parts of the country – came to a standstill. Tourism is suffering major losses from the unsafe situation in the north and the kidnapping cases – 70% of tourists are French. In Timia, the impressive oasis a good 200 km north of Agadez in the Air Mountains, there has been no tourism since 2007. Then there is the landmine problem.

The main mining areas for uranium and other deposits are in the traditional grazing areas of the nomadic animal keepers – Tuareg and Fulbe. The radiation values in the vicinity of the mines are far above the humanly acceptable values. There are now a number of organizations at home and abroad that demonstrate and take action against the ruthless mining conditions. Due to the poor safety standards, the uranium company AREVA was given the “Public Eye Award” on January 23, 2008, a “distinction” for particularly irresponsible companies. After tough months of negotiations between the Nigerien state and AREVA, a new contract was signed at the end of May 2014 countersigned on new conditions for uranium mining.

In general, there has been an increase in crime after the second Tuareg uprising and the influence of AQMI, which cannot be localized. Especially in the Agadez region, especially in the Air Mountains, after the weapons were handed in by the three Tuareg movements, there was a particularly high level of crime due to socio-economic problems. The victims are primarily foreigners who are kidnapped by armed gangs and turned over to terrorist organizations such as AQMI for blackmail purposes.

The kidnappings in recent years show that the situation between the state and the north of the country or the Tuareg has by no means been resolved. Despite the kidnapping of Areva employees in September 2010 in Arlit remained AREVA on site. In November 2013, abducted AREVA employees were released three years after being taken hostage.

On April 5, 2013, Tuareg artists from Niger and Mali met in Niamey for a festival to celebrate peace and social cohesion with music. Most of the Tuareg groups distance themselves from the Islamists of the AQMI or those groups that are close to it. They are looking for peaceful solutions to the situation. The Tuareg ethnic group is made up of many different groups, only a few of whom are Islamists. In principle, the interests of the Tuareg groups in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are also not the same.

North Niger Conflict