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Niger: Annan plans visit next week

Niger: Annan plans visit next week to draw attention to humanitarian situation

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will travel to Niger next Tuesday for a two-day visit to express his solidarity and to help focus international attention on the humanitarian aftermath of this sub-Saharan country’s accelerating desertification, prolonged drought and repeated locust infestations.

The Secretary-General, who will be accompanied by his wife Nane, also wants to help focus international attention on the special development challenges faced by countries like Niger in the sub-Saharan Sahel region and the efforts they have made to tackle these issues, his spokesman told a press briefing.

While in Niger, Mr. Annan intends to discuss various regional peace, security and development issues with President Mamadou Tandja, who is also the current chairman of the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS).

In addition, he plans to join the President when he visits a number of humanitarian field projects. His travel plans also call for the Mr. Annan to meet with the UN Country Team in Niamey, local and international development officials and civil society groups in Niger, the spokesman also said.

Earlier this month, the UN World Food Programme tripled the funds it had requested to avoid a worsening of the hunger situation for the 2.65 million people most at risk in Niger due to food shortages caused by drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts in 15 years.

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