Niger. At the beginning of the year, violent protests occurred in the capital Niamey and the country’s second largest city Zinder against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, who just got his employees murdered. But the Niger protests concerned the cover of the satirical magazine with a drawing depicting Prophet Muhammad saying “I am Charlie” under the words “Everything is forgiven”. Several casualties were called for in riots, where churches and bars were burned and French companies and cultural centers were attacked.
During the year, Niger was seriously affected by the attacks by Islamist militia Boko Haram, which attacked across the border in southeastern Nigeria. The attacks came in February in the Diffar region, where Niger’s army and Chad’s air force claimed to strike back the attackers. According to military records, over 100 Islamists were killed.
Thousands of soldiers were mobilized to fight Boko Haram in the border areas. At the same time, Niger sent several hundred men to Nigeria to join an international force against Boko Haram.
The government issued emergency permits in the Diffar region, and hundreds of people were arrested on suspicion of having links to Boko Haram. The war in the border regions also required many civilian victims.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Niamey is the capital of Niger which is located in Western Africa. Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau swore allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in March. In April, Boko Haram hit islands in the Nigerian part of Lake Chad, where many casualties were required, civilian and military. The violence forced thousands of people to flee the islands, and in the Diffar region there were already tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees who had escaped there from Boko Haram’s attack in Nigeria.
Niger collaborated with Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin as well as French and US military in the regional fight against Boko Haram. Following the serious attacks at the beginning of the year, Niger asked for help from the United States to train and equip local forces to defend the villages along the border with Nigeria. Work was also underway to try to counteract local youth being recruited by the Islamist militia. After unsuccessful harvests, young farmers in the area had become heavily indebted and were vulnerable to enticements from Boko Haram with money or vehicles.
At the end of the year, Boko Haram increased its attacks with more casualties. In October, a new state of emergency was announced in the Diffar region, where many people were on the run and thousands of students were unable to attend school. The Nigerian Air Force attacked a lock for Boko Haram.
Niger had been ranked by the UN as the world’s poorest country. In June, thousands of people in the capital demonstrated with demands for the government’s departure following repeated and long power cuts. Businessmen also demanded that the government cancel a contract with a French group, which was believed to have resulted in sharply increased taxes and fees. The government was also criticized for its proposal to increase the number of members of parliament in the elections in early 2016.
Ahead of the upcoming elections, a broad political alliance was formed against the government under the name of the Republican People’s Front. Several leading opposition politicians were included, including former President Hama Amadou and former President Mahamane Ousmane. Hama Amadou had been accused of involvement in a scandal involving trafficking in infants. When he returned to Niger in November after a year in exile, he was arrested. He said the charges against him were political, and when his supporters demonstrated, several of them were arrested.
During the year, the penalty for human smuggling was increased up to 30 years in prison and fined up to approximately SEK 400,000. Through Niger, a route for refugees and migrants from Africa to Europe crosses the Mediterranean, and many human smugglers operate in the country.