Famine in Niger

News of famine on a horrific scale has hit the headlines and then receded, even though Niger’s problems have not in any way diminished. Charities have done nothing despite knowing disaster was about to strike.

Why? Could it possibly be because in 2003 an Iraqi trade delegation visited Niger which US imperialism concluded was arranging for Niger to sell uranium to Saddam Hussein? Is charitable inactivity an expression of US displeasure?.

Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries due to the extent of its superexploitation by imperialism, principally French. It is rich in natural resources, particularly uranium, being the world’s third largest producer and accounting for 9 percent of the world’s supplies, but its mines belong to French companies that take the lion’s share of the profits.

In 1999, Niger’s foreign debt was $1.6bn, while its exports amounted to a mere $280m or so a year. Since then, about half the debt has been written off. In return for this, the government of Niger has been forced to privatise its utilities to facilitate takeover by imperialist concerns, and the IMF has enforced economic adjustments that have further pauperised the people.

Even before the present famine, Niger’s infant mortality rate was 248 per 1,000 and life expectancy was only 46 years.

This is the reality of a world in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer – an unavoidable law of capitalism, and living proof that the time is overdue for capitalism to be overthrown.