Osinbajo Departs Nigeria For UAE Peace Forum

File photo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Abuja for the City of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

He is expected to speak on ‘The Role of Religions in Promoting Tolerance: From Possibility to Necessity’ at the Sixth Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said that VP Osinbajo’s speech is scheduled as the forum’s keynote address.

“The Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies is an annual event organized by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

“Prof. Osinbajo’s speech is scheduled as the forum’s keynote address.

“The Sixth Assembly envisages an opportunity to initiate a civilized dialogue on the formulation of a new concept of tolerance, one that is humane and generous, and to transform a perspective that makes tolerance a religious imperative.”

READ ALSO: DSS Does Not Necessarily Need Permission Of The President To Arrest Sowore – Presidency

He also stated that VP Osinbajo will be at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, to meet with Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

Both leaders are expected to discuss bilateral issues on how to continue to expand diplomatic and economic relationships between Nigeria and the UAE.

“At the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the Vice President will meet with Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Both leaders will discuss bilateral issues on how to continue to expand diplomatic and economic relationships between Nigeria and the UAE.”

Cashless Policy Will Negatively Affect MSMEs, Employment Generation, MAN Warns

 

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has expressed concerns over the planned implementation of the cashless policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The association stated that the new policy expected to kick off in 2020, will affect micro, small, and medium enterprises who are clearly the engine room for growth of the economy and employment generation.

The apex bank, in a circular, directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to charge on deposits, in addition to already existing charges on withdrawals, 3 percent processing fees for individual accounts, withdrawals in excess of N500,000.00 and 5 percent for Corporate accounts withdrawal in excess of N3 million.

It also introduced processing fees for cash lodgments of 2 percent above N500,000.00 for individual accounts and 3 percent for lodgment above N3 million for Corporate accounts.

READ ALSO: No Fuel Scarcity This Yuletide – FG

In a signed statement by the Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, other options should be adopted to the approach to the policy.

“Even though one may agree with the CBN Governor that it is in the public interest to promote an efficient payment system via the cashless policy, there is need to examine the route you choose to achieve that objective, and I think this is the crux of the matter and appears to be a recurring decimal in the administration of our monetary policy interventions.”

He stressed that the policy was not presented to stakeholders for proper consultation, faulting the apex bank of insisting that the adoption is the only way to achieve the much-desired cashless economy.

Mr. Ajayi-Kadir advised that the CBN should adopt other viable options to achieve the much needed cashless economy.

“Apart from the fact that the policy at inception, was put in place without consultations, sensitization, explanation or rationale for its introduction; the policy was presented as the ONLY way to achieve the much-desired cashless or less-cash economy.

“The explanation given later was more of empathizing with the banking public for the “inevitable hardship” the latest cashless policy would impose on them. It would also appear that the applicable percentages did not take cognizance of the existing and long-standing charges on withdrawals.

“There is clearly more than one road to the market. In this instance, the CBN has at least two options to achieve the latest progression towards the desired cashless economy; to penalize non-compliance or to incentivize compliance. It would appear that the CBN has chosen the former. What I mean is that rather than introduce gains for those who embrace cashless transactions, it has elected to punish those who have not, including those operating in genuinely large cash-driven economic activities.”

He urged the leadership of the CBN to think through other available options to achieve its cashless policy.

“There is also a huge concern over the inadequacy of the needed cashless economy infrastructure, which the Money Deposit Banks are not doing enough to upscale or do so at a disproportionate additional cost to the users.

“MAN, therefore, urges the leadership of the CBN to think through other available options to achieve its cashless policy scheduled to be fully implemented throughout the country from March 31, 2020, while paying close attention to the use of the carrot rather than the stick approach,” he stated.

Five Pro-Iran Fighters Killed By Air Strikes

Syrians stand next to a destroyed building in Balyun in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, on December 8, 2019, the day after a reported Russian airstrike on a market in the village. 
Aaref WATAD / AFP

 

Airstrikes by unidentified warplanes have killed five pro-Iran fighters in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border, a Britain-based war monitor said on Sunday.

The strikes late Saturday targeted “positions of Iranian forces and allied militias” on the edge of the town of Albukamal, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Five non-Syrian fighters were killed,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, without being able to provide their nationalities.

READ ALSO: At Least 43 Killed In Delhi Factory Fire

Regime troops, Iranian forces and allied Iran-backed fighters, including from Iraq, are present in the area on the western banks of the Euphrates River, he said.

According to the Observatory, 10 Iraqi fighters were killed in September in airstrikes of unknown origin in the same area.

At the start of that month, air raids killed 18 pro-Iran fighters, the monitor reported.

In June 2018, strikes near the Iraqi border killed 55 pro-regime forces, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, the Observatory said.

An American official said at the time that Israel was responsible, but the Jewish state declined to comment.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria on what it says are positions of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and Iranian forces, which it has vowed to prevent gaining a foothold in Syrian territory.

But the US-led coalition that has been fighting the Islamic State group has in the past also admitted to carrying out airstrikes against pro-regime fighters.

The coalition is backing Kurdish-led fighters on the eastern shores of the Euphrates.

AFP

Malaysia Records First Polio Case After 27 Years

 

Malaysia has reported its first polio case in 27 years, health authorities said Sunday, announcing a three-month-old baby had been diagnosed on Borneo Island.

The Malaysian health ministry’s director-general, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said the baby from Tuaran in eastern Sabah state had been admitted into intensive care after experiencing fever and muscle weakness.

“The patient is currently undergoing treatment in an isolation ward and is in a stable condition but needs respiratory support,” Noor Hisham said, adding that the infant was diagnosed on Friday.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that has no cure and can only be prevented with several doses of oral and injectable vaccines. It affects the nervous system and spinal cord and can be fatal in rare cases.

READ ALSO: At Least 43 Killed In Delhi Factory Fire

Over the past three decades, the world has made great strides in the battle against polio. The World Health Organization said only 33 cases were reported worldwide last year.

Malaysia was declared polio-free in 2000. The last case in the country occurred in 1992.

The diagnosis comes after the Philippines, which shares a close sea border with Sabah, which was hit in September by its first polio case in nearly two decades.

Noor Hisham said test results showed that the Malaysian child was infected with a strain that shared genetic links to the virus detected in the Philippines.

Public health expert T. Jayabalan told AFP that he was not surprised by the polio outbreak because immunisation was not mandatory in Malaysia.

“This first case probably is the tip of the iceberg. There is a very high possibility of a rising trend,” he warned.

Jayabalan said there was a small group of people who refuse vaccination on account of misinformation.

In recent years, Malaysia had recorded a number of deaths among children from diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease, because they did not receive immunisation.

Noor Hisham said investigations found that 23 children under the age of 15 who lived close to the infected baby had also not received the polio vaccine.

“This is a frustrating situation because of the spread of the disease… can only be stopped with polio immunisation.”

Vaccination activities and monitoring will be carried out to try and contain the spread of the disease, he added.

AFP

Man City’s Walker Insists Title Race Not Over

Newcastle United’s French midfielder Allan Saint-Maximin (L) vies with Manchester City’s English defender Kyle Walker during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England on November 30, 2019.
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Kyle Walker insists the Premier League title race isn’t over for Manchester City despite their latest damaging defeat.

Pep Guardiola’s side trail leaders Liverpool by 14 points after losing 2-1 against Manchester United in Saturday’s derby at the Etihad Stadium.

In a match marred by an alleged racist gesture from a City supporter towards United players, the champions were punished for defensive miscues and a lack of cutting edge in the final third.

United continually cut City open in a series of incisive counter-attacks, with a penalty from Marcus Rashford opening the scoring before Anthony Martial doubled their lead.

City did pull one back through Nicolas Otamendi late on but they could not force an equaliser, condemning them to a fourth defeat of the season.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Man Over ‘Racist Gesture’ At Manchester Derby

City defender Walker is adamant his side aren’t out of contention yet, but he acknowledged it will take a big effort to catch Liverpool.

“We knew they had quick players in quick areas – Martial, Rashford and (Daniel) James. They are very good on the counter-attack. We knew that but we didn’t handle it as well as we could have,” Walker said.

“It’s a massive gap, we know that, but we need to keep fighting until the end. It’s not over until it’s over. We will keep trying, as a team.”

After just 16 games, City, who have also drawn twice, have now dropped as many points as they did in the whole of last season.

They would have to win all their remaining 22 games to match last season’s final points tally of 98.

City midfielder Rodri, in his first season at the club, conceded United had come up with a good game-plan but blamed the loss on poor defending and bad finishing.

“We created lots of chances but we didn’t manage to put the ball in. We played the way we wanted but it’s always difficult when you concede two goals,” he said.

“You need to find spaces but at the same time, you concede more spaces to them for their counter-attacks.

“It’s very difficult to attack when they put 11 players behind the ball but we shouldn’t have conceded those two goals.”

Asked about City’s fading title hopes, Rodri added: “It’s a big gap but my mentality has always been never give up, never. We will play and we will fight until the end.”

AFP

Anthony Joshua’s Victory Serves As Inspiration To Nigerian Youths, Says Dabiri-Erewa

 

Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa has congratulated Anthony Joshua for reclaiming his World Heavyweight titles after defeating his opponent Andy Ruiz Jr In Saturday’s boxing fight in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement by NIDCOM Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Dabiri-Erewa said that the victory over the Mexican was not only a thing of pride to Nigerians, but to Africa as a whole.

“I congratulate you on this wonderful feat, for winning this tensed but historical fight. “We are truly proud of you and urge you to continue to use your professional prowess to extol the virtues of Nigerian heritage.

READ ALSO: Sowore’s Rearrest: US Govt Calls For Respect For Rule Of Law

”Your shinning beacon serves as an inspiration to the youth of Nigeria. “Your victory is also a testimony to the fact that Nigerians are great people, contributing in many ways to the development of the country and the continent as a whole,” Dabiri-Erewa stated.

She noted with satisfaction that in spite of the challenges being faced by Anthony in his career, he had remained determined, focused and did not allow that to lure him into any form of criminality or depression.

Police Arrest Man Over ‘Racist Gesture’ At Manchester Derby

A file photo of police officers in London on October 19, 2019. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

British police on Sunday arrested a 41-year-old man after a video posted on social media showed a supporter apparently making racist gestures during Saturday’s Manchester derby.

“Police were called to a report of a supporter making alleged racist gestures and sounds towards players during the Manchester City and Manchester United derby,” said Greater Manchester Police in a statement.

“A 41-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody for questioning.”

READ ALSO: Joshua Tightlipped On Future Fight With Wilder After Reclaiming World Titles

City pledged to take a zero-tolerance approach against supporters found to have subjected United players to racist abuse after the Premier League champions lost 2-1 to their local rivals on Saturday.

United midfielder Fred was hit by objects thrown from the crowd as he prepared to take a corner in the second half and footage on social media appears to show a City fan mimicking a monkey at the Brazilian.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said both Fred and Jesse Lingard had been “affected” by the alleged abuse.

AFP

At Least 43 Killed In Delhi Factory Fire

Police personnel and ambulances are seen along a road following a factory fire in Anaj Mandi area of New Delhi on December 8, 2019. 
Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

 

At least 43 people were killed Sunday in a devastating fire that ripped through a bag factory in the cramped, congested old quarter of the Indian capital New Delhi, trapping scores of workers who were sleeping inside.

The blaze was the worst in Delhi since 59 movie-goers died in a cinema in 1997, with the city’s poor planning and enforcement of building and safety regulations often responsible for such deadly incidents.

Tearful relatives spoke of receiving desperate calls from factory workers from around 5:00 am (23:30 GMT) pleading to be freed from the inferno in the dark, poorly lit premises in the commercial hub of Sadar Bazar.

The four-storey building was home to a series of manufacturing units producing items including school bags and packing materials which only worsened the spread of the fire, officials said. Locals said the factory also made purses.

“Most of the casualties happened because of suffocation,” witness Mohammed Khalil told AFP.

“After the fire, people didn’t have any way to get out and I believe many were asleep and because of the smoke, they got suffocated.”

READ ALSO: Trapped Gold Miners Found Dead In South Africa

Outside a nearby hospital morgue, anxious relatives and friends gathered to identify the bodies.

Naushad Ahmad was desperately looking for his friend who remained missing, unable to reach him on his mobile phone.

“I have been to the factory and this tragedy was waiting to happen,” he told AFP.

“There was only one exit and entrance to the building, with all the electricity meters installed at the main door… People didn’t get a chance to escape.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the fire was “extremely horrific”, as state and national authorities said they would offer financial assistance to the victims’ families and to survivors.

Dozens Rescued

Sajjamuddin Ahmad spent two hours searching for his father-in-law and brother-in-law among the bodies and injured before discovering they were dead, he told AFP.

Other relatives said they still did not know what had happened to their loved ones.

“I don’t know whether they are alive or dead,” Noorjehan Bano, whose father and brother-in-law worked and lived in the factory, told AFP outside one of the hospitals.

Families of the victims told AFP they were mostly migrant workers who had come from Bihar, one of India’s most impoverished states. Some of them were paid just 1,000 rupees ($14) a month, they added.

Locals had called the police and emergency services as the blaze lit up the early morning sky, but firefighters struggled to reach the victims amid the narrow lanes.

Police and fire officials said at least 58 others were rescued, with local television networks airing footage of firemen carrying people out of the narrow lanes to nearby emergency vehicles.

The flames had been extinguished and they did not expect to find more bodies, officials added.

“Most who’ve died were sleeping when the fire broke out and died due to asphyxiation,” Sadar Bazar’s assistant commissioner of police told AFP.

Authorities said they did not yet know the cause of the blaze but Delhi’s fire services director told the Press Trust of India the site had been operating without the required fire safety clearances.

Many factories and small manufacturing units in big Indian cities are often located in old, cramped areas, where the cost of land is relatively cheaper.

Such units often also serve as sleeping quarters for poor, mostly migrant, workers, who manage to save money by staying overnight at their workplaces.

AFP

Sowore’s Rearrest: US Govt Calls For Respect For Rule Of Law

 

The United States government has expressed concerns over the rearrest of the convener of the ‘Revolution Now’ movement and former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Mr. Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) on Friday.

Mr. Sowore was rearrested and eventually detained barely 24 hours after the security agency had released him following a 24-hour ultimatum issued by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

His rearrest has sparked widespread reactions, even as his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, has called for the release of Mr. Sowore who has been granted bail by the court.

READ ALSO: DSS Says Only Sowore Was Rearrested, Gives Reason

In a tweet, the US State Department urged the Nigerian Government to respect the rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom. Adding that due process should be the tenets of democracy.

Meanwhile, the DSS in reaction to Mr. Sowore’s rearrest and detention, said that that he is facing trial, not as an activist, journalist or politician.

It said Sowore was taken into custody for allegedly resorting to calling for violence, a forceful takeover of government, and suspected transnational illegal activities.

Iran President Announces Budget Of ‘Resistance’ Against ‘Crippling’ US Sanctions

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on May 8, 2019, shows President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran.
HO / Iranian Presidency / AFP

 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday what he called a “budget of resistance” to counter crippling US sanctions, weeks after a fuel price hike sparked nationwide protests that turned deadly.

Rouhani said the aim was to reduce “hardships” as the Islamic republic has suffered a sharp economic downturn, with a plummeting currency sending inflation skyrocketing and hiking import prices.

The US sanctions imposed in May last year in a bitter dispute centred on Iran’s nuclear programme include an embargo on the crucial oil sector whose sales Washington aims to reduce to zero in a campaign of “maximum pressure”.

READ ALSO: World Bank Now Reducing Lending To China After Trump Outburst

Rouhani told parliament that the budget, which includes a 15 per cent public sector wage hike, “is a budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions”.

It would “announce to the world that despite sanctions we will manage the country, especially in terms of oil,” he added.

Rouhani said the 4,845 trillion rial ($36 billion at the current street rate) budget was devised to help Iran’s people overcome difficulty.

It would benefit from a $5 billion “investment” from Russia which was still being finalised, he said, without giving further details.

“We know that under the situation of sanctions and pressure, people are in hardship. We know people’s purchasing power has declined,” said Rouhani.

“Our exports, our imports, the transfer of money, our foreign exchange encounter a lot of problems.

“We all know that we encounter problems in exporting oil. Yet at the same time, we endeavour to reduce the difficulty of people’s livelihood.”

Rouhani said that despite the US sanctions his government estimated that Iran’s non-oil economy would “be positive” this year.

“Contrary to what the Americans thought, that with the pressure of sanctions our country’s economy would encounter problems, thank God we have chosen the correct path… and we are moving forward,” he said.

The budget announcement comes after fuel price hikes Iran announced in mid-November triggered deadly demonstrations across the country.

Officials in Iran have yet to give an overall death toll for the unrest in which petrol pumps and police stations were torched and shops looted.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International said at least 208 people were killed in the crackdown, but Iran has dismissed such figures as “utter lies”.

‘Reducing Hardships’

US President Donald Trump began imposing punitive measures in May 2018, after unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear programme.

The United States has continued to ramp up its sanctions this year as part of a stated campaign of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic republic.

Iran’s economy has been battered, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting it will contract by 9.5 percent this year.

The sharp downturn has seen the rial plummet and inflation running at more than 40 percent.

In his speech, Rouhani only touched on a few areas of the draft budget for the financial year starting late March 2020, which must be scrutinised and voted on by parliament.

“All our efforts are geared towards reducing these hardships to some extent so it can be more tolerable,” he told deputies.

“I deem it necessary here to tell the honourable representatives that the criteria of our budget is still based on maximum pressure and continuation of America’s sanctions,” he said.

“This does not mean that the government will not take other steps, but at the same time this is our criteria and based on these criteria we have devised and executed the budget.”

The budget comes ahead of parliamentary elections in February.

AFP

Court Invasion By The DSS Is ‘Legendary And Unrivalled’, Says NBA

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the invasion of a Federal High Court in Abuja by agents of the Department of State Services (DSS), stressing that the act is legendary and unrivalled.

A Federal High Court in Abuja witnessed a turn of events as operatives of the DSS stormed the court premises in an attempt to rearrest the convener of ‘Revolution Now’ movement, Omoyele Sowore, who was later taken away and eventually detained by the security agency.

The NBA added that the agency showed that impunity and lawlessness thrive, despite President Muhamadu Buhari’s assurance that he will ensure the Federal Government and agencies under it obeys court orders.

READ ALSO: DSS Says Only Sowore Was Rearrested, Gives Reason

In a statement by the NBA, its National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun, lamented the number of Nigerians still in unlawful custody and not charged to court.

Adding further, he listed demands made by the NBA to include an immediate investigation into the ‘shameful conduct’ by the DSS, immediate suspension of the DSS Director-General.

Read the full statement below:

DESECRATION & ASSAULT ON THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT BY DSS: NBA URGES ALL NIGERIANS TO DEFEND THE RULE OF LAW

The Nigerian Bar Association is greatly dismayed at the exhibition of primitivity, thuggery, insane passion for lawlessness, contempt and disrespect for the rule of law by the agents of the Department of State Services (DSS) within the precincts of the Federal High Court, Abuja while attempting to re-arrest Citizens Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare earlier today. Eventually, Sowore and Bakare were re-arrested by the DSS in spite of being on bail granted by the Federal High Court.

The NBA has been properly briefed – beyond the shameful videos of the incident in public domain- by our members who witnessed the disgraceful and crass violation of the hallowed precincts of the law by the officers of the Department of State Services, an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The NBA finds it disgraceful that this ‘court riot’ occasioned by the high handedness and insensitivity of the security operatives interrupted judicial proceedings and made the Presiding Judge abandon judicial proceedings because of safety concerns.

The Nigerian Bar Association strongly condemns the action of the Department of State Security, which is another in the series of impunity and lawlessness exhibited by the DSS. The invasion of the court by the agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria runs contrary to the avowed assurances of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that he will ensure that the Federal Government and agencies under it obey court orders. The disrespect of the court by the DSS is legendary and unrivalled.

A few days ago, the officers of the Nigerian Police Force exhibited similar traits when it also invaded the precincts of the High Court, Effurun to arrest Mr. Ademi-Akpeto, Chairman of Sapele branch of the NBA. Many Nigerians are still in unlawful custody and not charged to court. Nigerians are now under siege by security agents who have no regards for the law and the courts.

The NBA urges all Nigerians to be alive to their responsibilities as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is ready to partner with all Nigerians and civil society organisations to ensure that the rights of Nigerians as guaranteed by Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended are not trampled upon by any agency of government. The NBA therefore, demands as follows:

  1. That the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Assembly immediately investigate the shameful conduct by the DSS and ensure that all persons found culpable are duly punished in accordance with the law.
  2. The immediate suspension of the Director-General of the Department of State Security from office. We make this demand bearing in mind the fact that the DSS under his leadership has established itself as a brutish and irresponsible agency that derives immense pleasure from violating the fundamental rights of Nigerians and disrespecting court orders.
  3. That the National Assembly should review the laws setting up the DSS and indeed all security agencies in Nigeria with a view to repositioning them to be more responsible and responsive to the public.
  4. That the Attorney General of the Federation, being the Chief Law officer of the Federation takes over all the political cases or cases involving politically exposed persons presently handled by the DSS.

The above demands of the NBA are without prejudice to the consultations presently going on amongst critical stakeholders in the legal profession and the judiciary on how best to ensure that this sad incident does not re-occur.

NBA thanks all lawyers and Nigerians who have expressed displeasure over this sad incident. NBA shall keep lawyers and Nigerians alike informed of our further engagements with critical stakeholders.

Kunle Edun

National Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association.

‘Emotional’ Will Smith Campaigns Against Homelessness In New York

Actor Will Smith talks to the media after The World’s Big Sleep Out event in Time Square on December 7, 2019 in New York.
AFP

 

Will Smith still feels “emotional” about homelessness years after playing a destitute man in one of his most acclaimed film roles, the Hollywood star has told charity campaigners’ braving a fierce New York winter night to sleep rough.

Hundreds of people had gathered in Times Square on Saturday, rugged up and ready to bunk down in freezing temperatures; in a campaign to raise funds for what organizers said was record homelessness globally.

Smith told the crowd that his Oscar-nominated role in “The Pursuit of Happyness” — a 2007 biopic of a salesman forced to live on the streets of San Francisco with his young son — was a “life-changing experience” that had allowed him to understand the misery of poverty.

“It makes me emotional thinking about it right now,” Smith said. “To not have a place to go and to be able to lay your head down with your children at night is a horrendous tragedy.”

READ ALSO: Bulgaria’s Oldest Performing Actress Dies At 97

Smith also charmed crowds with a “bedtime story” — a rap rendition of the theme tune to his 1990s hit sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

People in over 50 cities around the world slept on the streets to support the World’s Big Sleep Out campaign, the charity said in a Saturday statement, adding that funds from the New York event would be donated to the UN Children’s Fund.

“In New York City alone, more people are now homeless than at any time since the Great Depression,” the statement said.

“Over 62,000 people in New York, including 22,000 kids will sleep in shelters tonight and the number of homeless people and refugees in cities around the world continues to hit record highs with each passing year.”

AFP