In response to the recent events in Niger, France has sought aid from the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism to facilitate the safe return of EU citizens from Niger.
In a recent statement issued by the EU Commission, it was noted that France had made available four planes to support the repatriation efforts, transporting individuals from Niamey to Paris.
According to the authority, two flights have already completed their journey, successfully repatriating approximately 500 people, while additional flights are currently being arranged.
The EU Commission also added that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has stepped in to finance 75 per cent of the transport costs, further facilitating the repatriation process and ensuring the well-being of those involved.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is a vital tool for EU Member States and Participating States to seek consular assistance for their citizens during emergencies or crises, such as evacuation operations.
As the Commission explains, during emergencies, repatriation flights organized through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism play a crucial role in ensuring the safe return of EU citizens from different nationalities who are in distress abroad.
“In emergency situations, repatriation flights coordinated under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism ensure the safe return of EU citizens of different nationalities,” the statement reads.
In this regard, the authority stressed that the assistance provided under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is entirely voluntary and offered by EU Member States and Participating States to aid EU citizens facing significant challenges abroad during crises or disasters. This mechanism fosters cooperation and solidarity among EU countries in times of need and reinforces efforts to protect and support their citizens globally.
Moreover, France has initiated the evacuation of French and European citizens from the country following the recent military coup that led to the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum’s democratically elected government. This military junta marks the seventh instance of an army takeover in West and Central Africa in less than three years.
The evacuation efforts come amid heightened tensions in the region, with neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso warning that any external intervention to restore the ousted government in Niger would be perceived as a declaration of war.
As the risk of conflict continues to grow, Spain has also announced its preparation to evacuate more than 70 citizens from Niger by air. Italy, too, has committed to organizing a repatriation flight to ensure the safety of its citizens in the country. Furthermore, Germany has urged its citizens to join the French evacuation efforts.
The Coronavirus pandemic has likely posed significant challenges to repatriation efforts, given the need for additional health and safety measures during the evacuation process. Thus, the largest repatriation process was conducted by the German authorities in May 2020.
In response to the crisis, the German authorities took swift action to ensure the safe return of their citizens to their country, which resulted in the return of over 240,000 German citizens.
During the same time, the EU Commission also announced its intention to provide a 75 per cent refund to the Czech Republic for the total costs of the repatriation flights conducted during the Coronavirus outbreak, ensuring the safe return of its citizens to their homeland.