The United Nations says it is paying more than 20 times the average amount on fuel generators to protect millions of vaccines in Niger from spoiling due to power outages.
The power cuts are the result of severe economic and travel sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, following the overthrow of the country’s president last month by the Abdourahmane Tchiani-led junta.
Stefano Savi, the UN Children’s Fund’s country representative in Niger, told The Associated Press on Monday that the organization has spent $200,000 on generators to keep vaccines, including those for polio and rotavirus, cool across the country during the first three weeks of August.
This is an increase from around $10,000 every month earlier, and he warned that he may soon run out of funds.
Niger depends largely on neighbouring Nigeria for up to 90% of its power, but after soldiers deposed democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum in July, Nigeria cut off a portion of Niger’s power supply as part of sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS.
Sanctions and the junta’s closure of the airspace have also blocked products from entering the nation, jeopardizing medical equipment and food supplies.
According to a UNICEF statement, the organization has 50 containers containing vaccines, cold chain equipment, and therapeutic food stopped at several entrance ports and unable to enter the country.