Upon the United Nations’ request, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) sought the cooperation of Benin, Togo, and Nigeria to facilitate the passage of humanitarian aid convoys. Benin complied with this request on September 5th, except for Niger, which barred trucks originating from Benin from entering its territory, leaving them stranded at the border.
This development stems from the strained relations between the Nigerien junta and Beninese authorities following the coup d’état on July 26th that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum. Niamey even severed its military cooperation with Benin, while Porto Novo continues to assert that the only legitimate interlocutor remains the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The Beninese Foreign Minister sent a letter to the ECOWAS Commission and the United Nations to report the blockade of these trucks.
These thirty trucks were loaded with nutritional products and medicines destined for the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, targeting regions such as Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder, and Niamey. According to the Beninese Foreign Minister, his country had opened a humanitarian corridor on September 5th to allow the aid to pass through. However, the Nigerian military objected to the convoy’s entry into their territory.
The Nigerien junta’s refusal is not surprising, as it suspects Benin of playing a prominent role in a potential military intervention aimed at reinstating President Bazoum. Anything originating from Patrice Talon’s administration is viewed with suspicion by the junta and is consequently deemed undesirable.
To the west of Benin, Togo, and Nigeria, both solicited aid transportation, have expressed their willingness to cooperate. The junta has not displayed any hostility towards President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo. The Togolese route could serve as a viable alternative. Alternatively, the path through Burkina Faso could also be considered, as it was three weeks ago when 300 trucks took that route to reach Niger. However, this detour is lengthy and poses security risks.