Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Monday, November 23, 2009

My heart breaks for Niger

November 19, 2009

Last night I heard wind of this news in Niger and it breaks my heart because once again the Peace Corps is shutting down specific zones where we have operated for decades. Currently PCV's from the Konni region have been evacuated and forced to either call it quits and return home or be reassigned to another region to continue their service.

My heart really goes out for those there now. As a volunteer who had to leave post due to being badly injured (broken back) and never having the chance to say good bye to my village is a deep void in my heart that will certainly never be filled...well until I return.

Without further adieu the State Department memo on the events that transpired.

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of travel to Niger due to threat of kidnapping, and recommends against all travel to Niger at this time. This Travel Alert expires February 28, 2010.

On December 14, 2008, two United Nations officials, former Canadian diplomats, were kidnapped by the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) while returning to Niamey after a visit to a Canadian-operated gold mine.

On January 22, 2009, four Europeans were abducted by AQIM operatives along the Mali-Niger border as their tour group returned to Niamey from a cultural festival in the Malian town of Anderamboukane.

On November 14, 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap U.S. embassy employees in Tahoua.

In addition to the threat of kidnapping posed by extremists, a State of Alert is in effect for the region of Agadez, including the cities of Agadez, Arlit, and Iferouane.

The State of Alert means that all travelers require Government of Niger permission for travel in and around these cities, and are liable to be stopped and held for questioning.

Moreover, the Nigerien military has the authority to hold individuals for questioning, without cause, beyond the standard 48 hours that local law enforcement is authorized to hold an individual for questioning before rendering charges.

Conditions of insecurity persist throughout northern and western Niger, and armed groups operate with relative impunity throughout these border regions. In addition, conflict zones in northern Niger are strewn with landmines, further impeding travel.

Please note that due to security concerns, U.S. government employees and official visitors are not permitted to travel outside of Niamey at this time.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Niger despite this Travel Alert to take responsibility for their own safety and security. American citizens should keep abreast of local events, monitor local news sources, and maintain heightened situational awareness at all times.


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