Nigerien leaders have asked the European Union for one billion euros to tackle a wide-scale migration problem, according to Reuters. Niger is using a transit route by many West African migrants in order to reach the EU. Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries and has been the target of repeated attacks by terrorist organizations.
The migrant crisis in Europe is gaining plenty of media attention around the world, but little focus has been given to poorer nations, such as Niger. The migration crisis is a burden to all host nations, regardless of wealth status, but poorly developed economies can ill afford to address such a large-scale issue without help from the abroad community.
If the EU approves a financial aid package, Nigeriens would reduce the amount of secret migration, while simultaneously preserving legal immigration. According to the International Organization for Migration, around 150,000 people will travel through Niger in 2016, crossing through the Sahara Desert and into the Mediterranean. Many of the migrants in question derive from war-torn areas, such as Iraq and Syria, including workers seeking opportunities in Europe.
The amount of people crossing through Niger may seem small when compared to Europe, but Niger can barely afford to take care of its growing population, especially a sea of desperate people, which rely on the help of transit nations to survive.
Due to lacking opportunities, many Nigeriens work abroad, and the government relies on remittances as an important revenue source. The growing number of transitory migrants drains precious state resources that could have been diverted to other crucial matters. Niger suffers from a harsh landscape that makes crop production difficult, and its overreliance on the commodities sector resulted in a revenue shortage in the wake of lower prices on the world stage.
Nigeriens truly need any assistance they can receive, but whether the funds would lead to relief and efficient governance is an open question, especially as the country contends with so many other political and economic problems.
Niger is also combating terrorist groups in the form of Boko Haram and the Al-Qaeda organization, MUJWA, contributing to further instability in the region. West Africa already receives significant financial and military support from Western countries. The migrant crisis is another major impediment to Niger’s success, and no light seems to be flickering at the end of the tunnel.