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Presbyterian Mission co-worker Jim McGill says he’s grateful for prayers and concerns after being evacuated from Niger last week following the coup

McGill, who works on water, sanitation and hygiene programs, asks Presbyterians to remember Niger in their prayers

by Jim McGill, World Mission | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Photo by James Wiseman via Unsplash

Editor’s Note: Last week, PC(USA) mission co-worker Jim McGill was evacuated from Niger as a safety precaution in light of the military coup orchestrated in the West African nation. McGill arrived safely in the United States after boarding a U.S. State Department charter flight and is currently residing with family.

Below McGill updates his situation and the situation in Niger. To learn more about his work, visit his Mission Connections page.

I am very grateful for all of the prayers and concerns for my family, myself, and for our partner church and people of Niger that have been received from family, friends, and congregations from all over the country. I also want to share the tremendous need to continue praying for Niger.

While this was an abrupt and disruptive shift back to the U.S. for me, I am blessed to return to support from my family and many friends in our area that are part of our extended family including next-door neighbors the Smith-Mather family on one side and the Dimmock family on the other, with Charles and Melissa Johnson and the Rev. Cheryl Barnes all close by for a short time.  While I am secure with this support, the uncertainties in the lives of the Nigerien people are currently growing with every passing day.

The coverage of the international news on the coup in Niger is an indicator of the nation’s new-found importance in the current strategies of world powers.  While in Africa we are constantly reminded of what happens in the U.S. — from spicy chicken sandwich wars to light beer advertising — how often are you hearing about the struggles of people in Niger to get a basic education, to get basic access to water and sanitation, to access their basic human rights?   And now, once again, we observe the well-known African proverb, “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

The Voice of America writes:

“France on Saturday was the first to announce it was suspending development aid to Niger, which last year totalled $131.6 million and was due to increase this year.

“Germany followed on Monday, suspending a two-year package of aid last negotiated in 2021 worth $131.6 million but said it would continue to supply food aid.

“London also said that Britain would maintain “critical” humanitarian aid, while suspending its long-term development aid.

“The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has announced the ‘immediate suspension of budgetary support’ and security cooperation with Niger.”

The bloc’s 2022-26 aid package is worth $2.5 billion.

The United States has so far said little about suspending its own aid — though U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that it was contingent on the country maintaining “democratic governance.”

 U.S. aid to Niger was set at $233 million for 2023.

West African nations have already imposed an economic blockade on Niger, while the World Bank announced Wednesday that it was suspending aid other than private-sector partnerships “until further notice.”

How will this affect Niger’s economy?

Jim McGill

“To give up on this support is to commit hara-kiri,” Niger’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou told broadcaster France24 on Sunday, referring to the Japanese term for ritual suicide.

Sanctions were going to be “a disaster” for the country, he warned.

 Please increase your praying for the people of Niger, for a quick and peaceful resolution to these troubles.

Watch a video of McGill talking about work in Niger here.

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