La Via Campesina affirms its support for the peasants of Niger and its rejection of sanctions and military intervention by ECOWAS

La Via Campesina, as a global peasant movement bringing together more than 180 peasant and agricultural workers’ organisations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, expresses its full solidarity with the people of Niger, and especially with the peasants of Niger.

Following the coup d’état that took place on 26 July 2023, very harsh sanctions were decreed against Niger, such as the blocking of the banking system and the trade embargo on the country. We denounce these sanctions, the main victims of which are the civilian population, particularly the rural population. These sanctions are seriously destabilising the daily lives of these people, who already have to contend with extreme poverty and inequality.

In addition to these unjust and inhumane sanctions, the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has announced a military intervention in Niger, supported by the United States and France. The people of West Africa need peace and security, certainly not a new military intervention that will bring more violence, more circulation of weapons of war and more suffering for the populations, who have already been facing chronic insecurity for several years as a result of terrorist groups. Farmers, pastoralists, fishermen and agroforesters are already the first to suffer the consequences of terrorism in many regions. The presence of foreign armed forces over the past decade, far from restoring security, has actually increased insecurity, as it has in many parts of the region. Many villages have been burnt down, women and girls sexually abused, herds stolen, fields abandoned and crops destroyed. This insecurity leads millions of farming and pastoralist families to leave the countryside to take refuge in the towns or to attempt to migrate. As a result, despite the fundamental role of local agricultural production in feeding the population, it is declining sharply, leading to an increase in hunger in the Sahel.

La Via Campesina calls on ECOWAS and its allies to find diplomatic solutions to the current crisis. The path to real peace in West and Central Africa lies in the full sovereignty of the people. Neo-colonial interventions must cease. Food sovereignty, support for family farms and respect for peasants’ rights through the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP) are key to building prosperity and peace.

Long live peace! Long live food sovereignty!