France has suspended all new visas for students from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso who were to continue their studies in the country due to the closure of French consular services in these countries.
The suspension comes after thousands of people protested in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, demanding that France withdraw its ambassador and troops from the West African country.
France suspended cooperation with Niger and Burkina Faso on July 29 and August 6, respectively after the coup in Niger. In November 2022, the same decision was taken for Mali.
Burkina Faso and Mali stand in solidarity with the soldiers who took power in their Nigerien neighbour.
The French embassy in Niger has been closed since the military takeover on July 26, and the French consulate is also unable to issue visas.
The French Ministry of Research and Higher Education has said that it was “forced to suspend our visa services and our civil cooperation for security reasons”. However, the ministry has said that existing cooperation with universities and other scientific establishments will continue.
The suspension of visas has left many students in a difficult situation. Some students have already been accepted to French universities and have paid their registration fees. Others are still waiting to hear back from universities.
France currently has some 3,000 Malian, 2,500 Burkinabé and 1,200 Nigerien students in its higher education establishments.
The Council of Nigeriens in France has appealed to the authorities in Niger and France to find a solution for the students who are waiting. The Union des Scolaires Nigériens has asked the students to be patient and realistic given that the Niger regime has broken its diplomatic relations with France.
It is unclear when France will resume issuing visas to students from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.