Updated with information from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
French citizens in Niger were warned on August 1, 2023, in a message sent by their embassy that they would be airlifted out of Niamey, the country’s capital city, “very soon and over a very short period of time.”
“Faced with the deterioration of the security situation in Niger, and taking advantage of the relative calm in Niamey, an evacuation operation by air is being prepared from Niamey,” the message read, as reported by Franceinfo.
At the time this article was published, four aircraft of the French Air and Space Force were deployed to Niger:
- One Airbus A330-200 airliner, registration F-UJCU
- Two Airbus A330MRTT, registration F-UJCH, F-UJCN
- A Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, registration 5847
The three A330 aircraft will take off from Niamey to Paris (CDG) between 16:10 and 23:55 local time, according to flightradar24 data. The C-130J was likely used to deploy French soldiers to secure the operation.
A spokesperson of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AeroTime that the evacuation operation should continue until at least the evening of August 2, 2023. Over a thousand French citizens are registered as residents of Niger. However, due to the summer holidays, half are expected to be present in the country. Other European citizens are also expected to be evacuated by France. The ministry could not specify whether any diplomatic staff was among the evacuees.
In 2013, France established a temporary base in Niamey dedicated to supporting Operation Barkhane, a counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel region. Called Air Base 101 Niamey, it is located on the territory of Diori Hamani International Airport (NIM). Since France disengaged from Mali in July 2022, Niamey became the main base of Barkhane.
Italy and Spain are also planning to evacuate some of their citizens out of Niger.