Alain Jocard Agence France-Presse French soldiers of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2eREP) and Nigerien soldiers prepare for a mission, on the French military base in Niamey, Niger, on the 14th May 2023.
The withdrawal of French troops from Niger began with several convoys this weekend between the advanced bases in the northwest, where 400 soldiers are deployed, and the capital Niamey, we learned on Monday from Nigerien and French security sources.
The Nigerien military regime, which came to power through a coup d'état on July 26, announced on Friday the first movements of French troops “by the end of the week, with the resumption of resupply of the areas [bases] and the departure of first soldiers and equipment from Niger to France.”
He thus confirmed what the French general staff had announced to the AFP the day before.
At least two convoys have since allowed the bases of Ouallam and Tabarey-Barey to be supplied and several French soldiers considered as priorities to be transported to Niamey, from where they could fly away on Tuesday by military plane, according to Nigerien and French security sources .
The supplies made it possible to improve the situation of the French soldiers on site where the reserves of rations, water and fuel – and therefore the electricity produced from generators – were counted in days, and to prepare for their departure from this region known as the “three borders” between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, where they were deployed in the fight against terrorism alongside the Nigeriens.
The French still have little visibility on the routes that can be used to leave Niger. The land borders are closed with Benin and Nigeria, and the Nigeriens prohibit the overflight of their territory by French, civil and military aircraft, unless authorized otherwise.
The other borders have been reopened with five countries , Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad where the command of the French Forces in the Sahel is located, based in N'Djamena.
If the French containers are transported to the Chad, they should then transit through the port of Douala, in Cameroon, according to a source close to the matter.
The Niamey regime assured that the withdrawal would take place “in complete safety, under army escort Niger.”
Since the coup d'état at the end of July and the suspension of the combat partnership agreement between France and Niger, the approximately 1,000 soldiers and airmen based in Niamey and the 400 others on the advanced bases no longer went out, deprived of any mission, helicopters and fighter planes remaining grounded.