More Than 113m People Suffer ‘Acute Hunger’: UN



More than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced “acute hunger” last year because of wars and climate disasters, with Africa the worst-hit region, the UN said Tuesday.

Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Syria were among the eight nations accounting for two-thirds of the total number of people worldwide exposed to the risk of famine, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its 2019 global report on food crises.

Launched three years ago, the annual study takes stock of the countries facing the greatest difficulties.

African states were “disproportionally” affected as close to 72 million people on the continent suffered acute hunger, the FAO’s emergencies director Dominique Bourgeon told AFP on Tuesday.

Conflict and insecurity remained key factors, along with economic turbulence and climate-related shocks like drought and floods, the report found.

In countries on the verge of famine, “up to 80 percent of the population depend on agriculture. They need both emergency humanitarian aid for food and measures to help boost agriculture,” Bourgeon said.

The report highlighted the strain put on countries hosting large numbers of refugees, including neighbouring nations of war-torn Syria as well as Bangladesh, which has received more than a million Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Venezuela food crisis

The FAO said it also expected the number of displaced people to increase “if the political and economic crisis persists in Venezuela” which is likely to declare a food emergency this year.

Bourgeon said he was concerned by the “important and significative rise” in poverty in Venezuela, as it grapples with dire economic and living conditions worsened by an ongoing political crisis.

Globally, the study noted that the overall situation slightly improved in 2018 compared to 2017 when 124 million people suffered acute hunger.

The drop can partially be attributed to the fact that some countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region for instance were less affected by weather disasters that had struck in previous years.

However, the FAO warned that the year-on-year trend of more than 100 million people facing famine was unlikely to change in the face of continued crises.

Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria all suffered bad droughts in 2018, which severely impacted agricultural output.

The FAO also stressed that “high levels of acute and chronic malnutrition in children living in emergency conditions remained of grave concern”.


Plane Crash: FG Condoles With Family Of Former Ambassador Bashua

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, addresses members of the diplomatic community in Abuja on… February 20, 2019



The Federal Government has sent its condolences to the family of the late former Ambassador Abiodun Oluremi Bashua who was among the 149 passengers and 8 crew members that boarded the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302.

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Sunday, on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all on board.

In a statement, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Edokpa, described the death as ‘untimely’, adding that the minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the ministry were in great shock.

“The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and members of Staff of the Ministry received the sad news of his death with great shock and prayed that the Almighty God grant his family and the nation, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

READ ALSO: Pilot Of Crashed Plane Reported ‘Difficulties’, Asked To Return – Ethiopian Airlines

Ambassador Bashua was a seasoned UN Expert who had extensive experience in several United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

He joined the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in 2009 and was appointed Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur in 2014 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ambassador Bashua also served as Secretary to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Rohingya Leaders Demand Justice After UN Probe Calls For Genocide Prosecution


Rohingya leaders in Bangladesh on Tuesday challenged the United Nations to ensure Myanmar’s generals stand trial after investigators called for top military commanders to be prosecuted for genocide against the minority.

A UN fact-finding mission into violations in Myanmar said the country’s army chief and five other senior brass should be investigated over a brutal crackdown last year that drove 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.

The report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council detailed a horrifying list of atrocities against the Rohingya, including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, and sexual violence “perpetrated on a massive scale.”

Estimates that 10,000 were killed in the 2017 crackdown were “conservative”, investigators said.

Myanmar has vehemently denied the allegations, insisting it was responding to attacks by Rohingya rebels.

Community leaders for the roughly one million displaced Rohingya in southern Bangladesh welcomed calls for prosecution but said they would judge the UN on its ability to deliver justice.

“The UN has to ensure that justice sees the light,” Rohingya community leader Abdul Gowffer told AFP by phone.

“The commanders must face an ICC trial,” he added, referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The investigators have called on the UN Security Council to refer the Myanmar situation to the ICC or for the creation of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.

The Security Council has repeatedly urged Myanmar to halt military operations and to allow the Rohingya to safely return home.

But its initiatives have been limited by council member and top Myanmar ally China, who could also thwart efforts to refer the case to the ICC.

Dil Mohammad, another Rohingya leader, urged the UN to take further steps to ensure their safe return to Rakhine state, a process that has stalled with Bangladesh and Myanmar blaming each other for the delay.

“It already took a year to reach this UN ruling,” said Mohammad, who lives in a strip of no man’s land near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border with 6,000 other refugees.

“Many things need to be done very quickly so we can return to our land in dignity and safety,” he told AFP.

The investigators were never granted access to Myanmar and based their findings on interviews with 875 victims and witnesses, as well as satellite imagery and authenticated documents, photographs and videos.


Benue Governor Declares Hunt Down Of Criminals

Benue Governor Declares Hunt Down Of Criminals

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has directed security agencies in the state to hunt down all criminals and gang related militia to create enabling environment for investments.

The Governor on Friday said that insecurity had affected his effort to woo foreign-direct investments to the agricultural and mineral sectors of the state’s economy.

Governor Ortom gave the directive in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State while flagging off a three-day Social and Skill Acquisition Retreat for over 1,000 ex-criminals who embraced his amnesty programme.

The training retreat, according to him, followed President Muhammadu Buhari and the United Nation’s joint approval to reform the repentant criminals to serve as a template for other African countries in ending social problems.

Agricultural Revolution Plan

The Governor expressed hopes that the amnesty programme would address both security and investment promotion concerns.

Some of the participating ex-gang members, Joseph Tyonna and Ahamgba Ati, promised to help the Benue State government overcome insecurity. They urged the government to include them in the agricultural revolution plan.

Benue State presently enjoys relative peace and tranquility as over 1,000 known criminals took up Governor Ortom’s amnesty offer and turned in over 400 assorted weapons and ammunition.

NDLEA Seeks Inter-Agency Collaboration Against Drug Abuse

ndleaThe National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has stressed the need for inter-agency collaboration in order to win the war against drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Nigeria.

The collaboration is to scale up its (NDLEA) control from small traffickers to medium and high level traffickers of illicit drugs.

 Director General of the NDLEA, Mrs Roli Bode-George, made the call in Abuja on Friday at an event to mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Effective Criminal Justice System

According to the NDLEA boss, illicit drug trafficking and abuse has continued to thrive, despite government’s efforts to curb the menace.

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking of narcotics have continued to thrive in Nigeria in the face of several interceptions and destruction of illicit drugs and arrests in the last two years by the agency.

Meanwhile, the United Nations office on drug and crime says effective criminal justice system and provision of alternative jobs for producers of narcotics are needed for effective control of illicit drugs.

Palestine, Israel Hold Truce As Life Returns To Gaza

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri is carried by Palestinians as they celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel following a ceasefire in Gaza CityA ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians aimed at ending their seven-week conflict in Gaza appeared to be holding early on Wednesday as the focus shifted to securing an arrangement for the long term.

No clear victor emerged from what had become a war of attrition between the Middle East’s most powerful armed forces and the dominant Hamas militant movement in the Gaza Strip.

Exacting a heavy toll in Palestinian lives and property, Israel said it dealt a strong blow to Hamas, killing several of its military leaders and destroying the group’s cross-border infiltration tunnels.

But Israel also faced persistent rocket fire for nearly two months that caused an exodus from a number of border communities and became part of daily life in its commercial heartland.

Palestinian and Egyptian officials said the deal, which was mediated in Cairo and took effect on Tuesday evening, called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.

A senior official of the Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, voiced willingness for the security forces of Western-backed Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and the unity government he formed in June to control the passage points.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are seeking guarantees that weapons will not enter the territory of 1.8 million people.

Under a second stage of the truce that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and Israel’s release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, possibly in a trade for body parts of two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas, the officials said.

After the ceasefire began, crowds and traffic filled the streets of Gaza. Car horns blared and recorded chants praising God sounded from mosque loudspeakers. Celebratory gunfire killed one Palestinian and wounded 19 others, hospital officials said.

“Today we declare the victory of the resistance, today we declare the victory of Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Israel gave a low-key response to the truce, saying it would facilitate the flow of civilian goods and humanitarian and reconstruction aid into the impoverished territory if the “open-ended” ceasefire was honored.

“We have no problem with civilian support for Gaza,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We don’t want to see Hamas rebuild its military machine.”

Many residents of southern Israel remained skeptical, and some officials recommended against returning home too soon.

“We had ceasefires in the past that didn’t succeed or work out well, and (Hamas) continued with their terror, destruction, with all their craziness, and we no longer believe them,” said Israeli Meirav Danino outside a supermarket in the border town of Sderot that for years has been hit by rockets.

The United States and United Nations urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement.

“We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead.”

Palestinian health officials say 2,139 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in the enclave since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket salvoes.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel have been killed – a civilian died after the ceasefire was announced from a mortar attack earlier in the day.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip United Nation have been destroyed or damaged in the most prolonged Israeli-Palestinian fighting since a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising. The  has named a panel to investigate possible war crimes committed by both sides.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced in the Gaza Strip. Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants and uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launch sites for rockets.

“We have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken,” said Gaza teacher Ahmed Awf, 55, as he held his two-year-old son in his arms and joined in the street festivities.

Many of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, a partly U.S.-funded project hailed by many Israelis as an example of their nation’s high-tech capabilities.

But short-range mortar bombs rained down on farming communities and towns near the Gaza border, putting into question the start of the school year in the area on Sept. 1.

Green Economy: Preparing For The Threats Of Climate Change

earthfileOn Monday, March 31, 2014, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report saying that much of the world remains unprepared for the mounting threats of the changing climate.

Eight is the number of “key risks” that the IPCC feels “are identified with high confidence, span sectors and regions.”

The world today faces two main problems: the economy and the environment. Some would suggest these 2 issues go hand-in-hand. What can be done here in Nigeria to avoid being victims of the predicted doom?

Almost 200 governments have agreed to limit warming to less than 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, mainly by curbing emissions from burning fossil fuels. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 Celsius.

The Green Economy is people deciding to walk rather than drive to work, to buy local food and a more fuel-efficient car. It is business owners choosing to fill their inventories from sustainable sources and manufacturers choosing to dispose of their waste products responsibly. It is politicians making the hard choices that favour the long term interests of future generations over the immediate wishes of lobbyists.

The 2014 report, by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to help governments prepare a deal to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Greening the economy is our focus on this edition of Earthfile.

Senate Hails Federal Government On UN Seat

The Senate has applauded Nigeria’s election into the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council saying it will further encourage the country’s active participation in promoting global peace.

Moving a motion on the floor of the Senate, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba congratulated the government and people of Nigeria over what he described as a landmark achievement.

Senate President David Mark said the overwhelming endorsement of Nigeria for the UN Security Council seat is a display of the world recognition of the nation’s activities in supporting and promoting peace, security and political stability in Africa and largely across the world.

Nigeria was elected unopposed into a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council on October 17, 2013 along with Saudi Arabia, Chad, Chile, and Lithuania, with The Gambia pulling out of the race.

This is the fourth time since it became independent in 1960 that Nigeria is being elected to the UN Security Council.

UN honours 1500 Nigerian soldiers in Liberia

The acting Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Louis M. Aucoin on Monday honoured more than 1,500 Nigerian peacekeepers, including 92 women, with UN medals for their contribution to UNMIL and peace in Liberia.

Mr. Aucoin hailed Nigeria’s outstanding contribution to international peacekeeping, describing the country as a committed ally of the UN’s efforts to bring peace and security to the world.

The Acting UN envoy further commended Nigerian peacekeepers, deployed in Bomi, Gbopolu and Grand Cape Mount counties, for serving diligently in their area of operations and then peacekeepers in Margibi and Montserrado counties for providing escort duties, conducting joint patrols with the Liberia National Police and UNMIL Formed Police Units, and for guarding government and UNMIL establishments.

He said “As we re-double our efforts in re-enforcing the capacity of Liberian security agencies; I count on your continued professionalism and zeal as UNMIL proceeds with the transition planning. Liberia’s stability will remain UNMIL’s top priority while we work with the Government and partners to map a critical path towards a complete transition.”

Dignitaries present at the ceremony included UNMIL Force Commander Major-Gen. Muhammad Khalid; the Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia, Chigozie Felicia Obi- Nnadozie, the representative of the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, Major General Emmanuel Bassey, UNMIL Deputy Force Commander, Brig. Gen. John Kwasie and UNMIL Force Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Hugh Van Roosen.

The program was also attended by other UNMIL Senior military and civilian staff.

Gay rights: Lawyer sues Federal Government and Senate

A Nigerian lawyer, Robert Igbinedion, has sued the Federal Government and the National Assembly challenging the passage of the Same-Sex Prohibition Bill passed by the Senate late last year.

In a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos on behalf of the “sexual minorities”, Mr. Igbinedion prayed for an order for the enforcement of fundamental rights to Private and Family life, Freedom from Discrimination, and Human dignity.

Mr. Igbinedion joined President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adokiye.

The suit is expected to allow those who practice same orientation with counterparts of their opposite sex to go scot free.

Mr. Igbinedion said that he filed the suit because the step taken by the Senate to make a law against LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender) persons is “one too many” by the government to oppress the minority.

“All over Nigeria, the accepted norm now is as long as the majority is happy, the minority can go to hell… and that is the direction we are running into at jet speed. That is not a direction a government should go,” Mr. Igbinedion said.

“The essence for which government is established is to protect minority,” he added.

The senate had in November 2011 passed the controversial bill which gives a sentence of 14 years imprisonment for gay couples and 10 years for witnesses and those who aid and abet the marriage despite severe criticism from the international community including threats of aid withdrawal

The Bill criminalises the public display of affection (PDA) by gay lovers and also prohibits the operation and registration of gay clubs with a 10 year jail term to defaulters.

The passage of the bill generated widespread commendation from the majority of Nigerians but international rights group, Amnesty International, expressed displeasure that such a bill “would threaten all Nigerians’ rights.”

If passed into law, the bill would set a precedent that “would threaten all Nigerians’ rights to privacy, equality, free expression, association, and to be free from discrimination,” the groups said.

In filing the suit, which comes up for hearing at the Justice Tsoho court in Ikoyi on May 4th, Mr. Igbinedion said that instead of making a law to protect the minorities from victimization, the Nigerian State is “rather moving in the direction” of criminalizing them.

“I am not gay. Since I filed this action, I have only met one. Before I filed the action, I have never met any in Nigeria. But that gives me more vigour, that empowers me because I am not biased. I have nothing to lose or gain. Even if I have something to gain, I’ll still file it anyway,” said Mr. Igbinedion, a registered foreign lawyer in the United Kingdom.

The Same Sex prohibition Bill is still awaiting a concurrent passage by the House of Representatives and would be signed into law by the President afterwards.

“I will fight it because our law permits it. That is why I’m in court. Chapter 4 of our Constitution says you cannot discriminate, so it permits it,” Mr. Igbinedion said.

“And the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules have given us a clear direction in interpreting our Chapter 4, it says you must look to UN’s decision. And UN’s decision has recognized rights of LGBT persons as fundamental rights,” he added.