Niger reopens airspace to ease hardship

Niger on Monday reopened its airspace nearly a month after imposing a ban following a military coup in July, the official Nigerien news agency reports.

After taking power on July 26, the coup leaders closed the country’s airspace before reopening it again on August 2 — a measure that was reversed on August 6 after regional countries threatened to intervene militarily to restore civilian rule.

“The airspace of the Republic of Niger is open to all national and international commercial flights”, the agency quoted a transport ministry spokesman as saying, adding that ground services had also resumed.

It added that Niger airspace remained closed to all operational military flights and others requiring prior authorisation from the relevant authorities.

The Economic Community of West African States has imposed sanctions on Niger after the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum and the bloc threatened military intervention as a last resort if talks fail to restore civilian rule.

On August 2, Niger reopened land and air borders with five neighbouring countries of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali and Chad.

Some flights that have received special authorisation have been able to continue to use the airport in the capital Niamey.

On Friday, the United Nations warned that tons of food aid destined for Niger was stuck in transit due to border closures.

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