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Sanctions, airspace closures hamper UN humanitarian efforts in Niger

Niger’s military coup is disrupting humanitarian efforts by the United Nations as border and airspace closures threaten to cut off supplies of medicine and food, says a UN official.

UN aid agencies are scrambling to replenish depleting stocks just as regional sanctions potentially increase the number of people in need, its humanitarian chief in Niger, Louise Aubin, warned on Tuesday.

“The risk is that we start running out of assistance materials to be able to help out people – I’m talking about simple things that are so lifesaving,” Aubin told Reuters news agency, listing food, vaccines and cash as areas of concern.

“Some people will soon be feeling the pinch of this … More than the 4.3 million people we had planned on supporting through emergency humanitarian assistance, we might see that number growing and growing fast.”

On Monday, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said he was “very concerned” about the situation in Niger and urged the international community to “do everything” to help those in need.

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