Özgür Çınar, Niger ambassador to Türkiye, has stated that the West African country, where the military junta seized power on July 26, is not currently the scene of an active conflict or clash, but quite intense waiting and uncertainty prevails.
Speaking to Daily Hürriyet regarding the latest situation in the coup-hit country, Çınar stressed that Niger is not experiencing a severe security threat or conflict environment, yet the uncertainty arisen from the question about the duration and outcome of the military coup intensifies anxiety.
Regarding Aug. 9’s return of 226 individuals, mainly Turkish citizens, to Türkiye, Çınar clarified that it shouldn’t be viewed as an evacuation mission.
With a specially authorized flight by Turkish Airlines (THY), the plane carrying Turkish and a group of Azerbaijani citizens took off from the International Diori Hamani Airport in Niger’s capital Niamey at 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 and arrived in Istanbul at around 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 9.
“Due to the closure of the airspace on the day of the coup, some citizens whose flights were already planned had to stay in Niger. We have brought our citizens who were supposed to arrive in Türkiye but could not return. This flight was not an evacuation,” Çınar said.
“For now, we are not conducting evacuation operations,” he stated, adding that the personnel working in several Turkish education and health institutions continue their duties.
Although diplomatic ties between Türkiye and Niger date back to 1967, they gained momentum within Africa’s expansion framework, with the opening of Türkiye’s Niamey Embassy in January 2012 and Niger’s Ankara Embassy in October 2012.
Around 500 Turkish citizens reside in Niger. One of the most important aspects of the relations between the two countries is Türkiye’s infrastructure assistance to Niger.
Together with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) Niamey Program, which officially became operational in 2014, many projects in Niger were implemented. The Niger-Türkiye Friendship Hospital, which was put into service in the country in 2019, and the “Turkish-Niger Friendship Schools” belonging to the Turkish Maarif Foundation are operating.
The National Council for the Protection of the Homeland (CNSP), the military junta that seized power in Niger on July 26, had closed Niger’s airspace until further notice due to an alleged potential attack by foreign powers.