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UN boss unhappy with Nigers decisions on resident coordinator

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 28, 2020 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press encounter at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 28, 2020. The latest attacks in opposition-held northwest Syria marks "one of the most alarming moments" in the nearly nine-year-old conflict, Guterres said on Friday. (Xinhua/Wang Jiangang)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press encounter at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 28, 2020. The latest attacks in opposition-held northwest Syria marks "one of the most alarming moments" in the nearly nine-year-old conflict, Guterres said on Friday. (Xinhua/Wang Jiangang)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “deeply regrets” the Nigerien military government’s decision to expel the UN resident coordinator, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.

The secretary-general deeply regrets that the National Council for Safeguarding the Fatherland ordered the departure of the UN resident coordinator/humanitarian coordinator in Niger, Louise Aubin, within 72 hours, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for Guterres, in a statement.

The decision hampers the ability of the United Nations to effectively carry out the essential work the world body does for the people of Niger, where 4.3 million of them, primarily women and children, need humanitarian assistance, said the spokesman.

“The secretary-general has full confidence in the United Nations system in Niger,” Dujarric said. “He underlines that the order to leave the country is contrary to the legal framework applicable to the United Nations, including with respect to obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and the privileges and immunities accorded to the organization.”

Despite the order, Guterres reiterated the unwavering commitment of the United Nations to stay and deliver for the people of Niger, through continued humanitarian and development operations, said the spokesman.

Dujarric said Aubin has been exemplary in leading the UN system in Niger to work impartially and tirelessly to deliver humanitarian and development assistance.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the humanitarian situation in Niger remains dire.

“Before the current political crisis, the country was already facing a complex humanitarian situation linked to escalating violence and the impact of the climate crisis,” said OCHA.

The office pointed out that 3 million people, or 13 percent of the population, need food assistance.

“Our colleagues warn about a looming food and nutrition crisis with limited funding to sustain a food response during the lean season,” OCHA said, noting that the humanitarian response plan for Niger, which requests 584 million U.S. dollar, is 41 percent funded.

OCHA said flooding worsens the situation, with more than 170,000 people affected. The Maradi region in the south is the most brutally hit, with more than 65,000 people affected.

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