UN Seeks $35 Million In Emergency Aid For Madagascar

In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) appealed on Tuesday for emergency aid of $35 million to fight hunger in southern Madagascar, hit by the coronavirus pandemic and a third consecutive year of drought.

“Some 1.35 million people are projected to be food insecure — 35 percent of the region’s population,” the WFP said in a statement.

“With severe malnutrition rates continuing to spiral and many children forced to beg in order to help their families eat, urgent action is required to prevent a humanitarian crisis.”

The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the hit from a long-term drought, it said.

Seasonal employment has dried up, affecting rural families who saved this income to help them through the lean season, which peaks between January and April.

“To survive, families are eating tamarind fruit mixed with clay,” the statement quoted Moumini Ouedraogo, WFP’s Madagascar representative, as saying.

“We can’t face another year like this. With no rain and a poor harvest, people will face starvation. No one should have to live like this.”

The WFP currently provides food aid for almost half a million people in the nine hardest-hit districts in the south of the island, and intends to ramp this up to nearly 900,000 by June.

It is seeking $35 million (29 million euros) for emergency food and malnutrition programmes, including an initiative to feed schoolchildren so that they can stay in class rather than leave to seek work or beg.

SERAP Seeks UN Intervention Over Detention Of Sowore, Others

A file photo of Omoyele Sowore and others at a courtroom in Abuja on January 4, 2021.

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sought the intervention of the United Nations over the detention of the convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore, and four others.

In a statement on Tuesday by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group said it has sent an urgent complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the “arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment” Sowore and the other whom it said were activists for peacefully exercising their human rights.

This comes a day after a Magistrate Court in Abuja ordered the remand of the five persons at the Kuje Correctional Centre in the nation’s capital pending when their formal bail application would be heard on Tuesday.

They were arraigned by the Federal Government on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and an attempt to incite others.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Remand Of Sowore, Four Others In Kuje Prison

In its reaction, SERAP said, “The Working Group should request the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the bogus charges against Mr Sowore and four other activists, and to immediately and unconditionally release them.”

In the complaint dated January 4, it stressed that the detention of the five persons constituted an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty, saying it does not have any legal justification.

The human rights group urged the UN Working Group to initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the charges against Sowore and the activists and to urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian government inquiring about the case generally.

It also urged the international body to issue an opinion declaring that the deprivation of liberty and detention of Sowore and the others was arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international human rights law.

Before their arraignment, Sowore had in a tweet called for a crossover protest, asking Nigerians to pick up a candle and a placard showing their grievances against the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The complaint addressed to the Chairman/Rapporteur of the Working Group, Mr Jose Guevara Bermudez, read in part:

The Human Rights Committee has interpreted this right to mean that procedures for carrying out legally authorized deprivation of liberty should also be established by law and State parties should ensure compliance with their legally prescribed procedures.

Pursuant to the mandate of the Working Group, the “Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council” and the publication “Working with the UN Human Rights Programme, a Handbook for Civil Society”, SERAP, a non-governmental human rights organization, can provide information on a specific human rights case or situation in a particular country, or on a country’s laws and practices with human rights implications.

SERAP, therefore, argues that the case adequately satisfies the requirements by which to submit an individual complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

SERAP is therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the continuing detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists to be arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international law.

Accordingly, it is hereby requested that the Working Group consider this Individual Complaint a formal request for an opinion of the Working Group pursuant to Resolution 1997/50 of the Commission on Human Rights, as reiterated by Resolutions 2000/36, 2003/31, and Human Rights Council Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, and 24/7.

SERAP respectfully requests the Working Group to initiate the procedure involving the investigation of individual cases toward reaching an opinion declaring the detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists to be arbitrary and in violation of international human rights law.

To this end, SERAP will pursue the regular communications procedure before the Working Group in order to have the ability to provide comments on any response by the Nigerian government.

On midnight of 1st January 2021, Mr Sowore and four other activists were arrested by the officers of Nigeria Police Force, particularly men dispatched from Apo Division, Abuja, at the #CrossoverWithProtest, a planned procession across the country on New Year Eve.

They were reportedly subjected to severe torture and other ill-treatment, and Sowore was left with bruises on his nose and all over his body in an apparently the use of excessive force by the police officers.

Sowore and four other activists were arraigned at the Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 2 on Monday, 4th January 2021 on three charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and attempting to incite others.

Sowore denied all the charges, but the Magistrate ordered that he, alongside other activists, be remanded in Kuje Prison. He was denied access to his friends and family for days.

The authorities have also refused to provide him with medical attention despite overt marks of torture and other ill-treatment he reportedly suffered.

We Must Start Thinking About Next Pandemic – UN

In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

The world must start preparing for the next pandemic, the United Nations has said.

In a message commemorating the first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on Sunday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the idea of a virus more lethal than COVID-19 is not incredible.

“This first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness falls at the end of a year in which a scenario many had feared came tragically true,” Guterres said.

READ ALSO: South Korea Detects First COVID-19 Variant Cases

“With COVID-19 having now killed more than 1.7 million people, devastated economies, upended societies and exposed the world’s vulnerabilities in the starkest ways, the value of health emergency preparedness has hit home like never before.  As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next.  Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine a virus just as infectious but even more lethal.

“We can already draw many lessons from the experiences of the past year.

“Preparedness is a sound investment, costing far less than emergency expenditures.  Societies need stronger health systems, including universal health coverage.  People and families need more social protection.  Communities on the frontlines need timely support.  Countries need more effective technical cooperation.   And we need to pay greater attention to the encroachment of people and livestock into animal habitats; 75 per cent of new and emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic.”

Guterres emphasised that science must be the guide towards preparedness for another pandemic and urged countries to cooperate because “no one is safe unless all of us are safe.”

“The United Nations system, including the World Health Organization, is strongly committed to supporting Governments and all partners in strengthening epidemic preparedness as a crucial part of our broader work to build a healthier world and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Guterres said.

“This International Day falls on the birthdate of Louis Pasteur, the French biologist responsible for ground-breaking work on vaccinations.  In honouring his work, I salute today’s medical professionals, front-line personnel and essential workers who have carried the world through this emergency with such remarkable commitment.  As we recover from the pandemic, let us resolve to build up our prevention capacities so that we are ready when the world faces the next outbreak.”

UN Raises $370 Million For 2021 Emergency Fund

In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian schoolchildren raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank.(Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

The United Nations announced Tuesday it has raised more than $370 million for its emergency fund to help respond to crises in 2021.

More than 50 donors pledged money to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), managed by the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, according to a statement.

The donors were not identified.

“This fund is one of the fastest ways to help people trapped both in sudden-onset and deteriorating crises, as well as underfunded ones that are not at the top of the world’s radar,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a videoconference of donors held at the body’s headquarters.

Created in 2005, the fund “has helped millions of people get food, health care, shelter and protection this year,” Lowcock said.

READ ALSO: France Probes Rescue Helicopter Crash That Killed Five

In 2020, CERF helped 65 million people in 52 countries and territories, for a total amount of more than $900 million. The money was used to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and other diseases, as well as for relief from conflicts or natural disasters, or to avoid famine, according to the statement.

The donors’ conference for the emergency fund comes a few days after the UN published its estimate of humanitarian needs for 160 million people in 2021, a total of $35 billion.

AFP

Bad Weather Helps To Push World Food Prices To Six-Year High – UN

Volunteers prepare food packages to be distributed to people in need at the Zaqueo Association in Palma de Mallorca on December 2, 2020. JAIME REINA / AFP
Volunteers prepare food packages to be distributed to people in need at the Zaqueo Association in Palma de Mallorca on December 2, 2020.
JAIME REINA / AFP

 

Global food commodity prices rose sharply in November to their highest level in nearly six years, the UN food agency said Thursday, due in part to adverse weather conditions.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said prices of the most globally traded foodstuffs were up across the board, putting extra pressure in particular on 45 countries that need outside help feeding their populations.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 105 points during the month, up 3.9 percent from October and 6.5 percent from a year earlier.

“The monthly increase was the sharpest since July 2012, putting the index at its highest level since December 2014,” the Rome-based agency said.

The biggest rise was in the vegetable oil price index, which jumped 14.5 percent because of low palm oil stocks.

The cereal price index rose 2.5 percent from October — making it nearly 20 percent higher than a year ago.

Wheat export prices were also up, because of reduced harvest prospects in Argentina, as were maize prices, with lower output expectations in the US and Ukraine and large purchases by China, the FAO said.

The sugar price index was up 3.3 percent month-on-month amid “growing expectations of a global production shortfall” as bad weather sparked weaker crop prospects in the EU, Russia and Thailand.

Dairy prices also rose 0.9 percent to near an 18-month high, in part because of a boom in sales in Europe. Meat prices were up 0.9 percent from October, but significantly down on a year ago, the report said.

The increase in prices is an extra burden for those who saw their income fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which the FAO said is proving to be “an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity”.

“The pandemic is exacerbating and intensifying already fragile conditions caused by conflicts, pests and weather shocks, including recent hurricanes in Central America and floods in Africa,” it said.

“Forty-five countries, 34 of them in Africa, continue to be in need of external assistance for food,” it said.

What is more, it noted a risk of above-average rainfall in southern Africa and East Asia, while parts of Near East Asia and East Africa were expecting reduced rains, “conditions that may result in adverse production shocks”.

 

AFP

UN Granted ‘Unconditional’ Aid Access To Ethiopia’s Tigray

Ethiopian refugees who fled the Tigray conflict rest in the shadow of a warehouse erected by the World Food Programme (WFP) at Village Eight transit centre near the Ethiopian border in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on December 2, 2020. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Ethiopian refugees who fled the Tigray conflict rest in the shadow of a warehouse erected by the World Food Programme (WFP) at Village Eight transit centre near the Ethiopian border in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on December 2, 2020. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Ethiopia has granted the United Nations access to deliver aid to the northern region of Tigray, following weeks of lobbying amid military operations there, according to an agreement seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The agreement, signed by Ethiopia’s peace minister, comes four weeks after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent in troops and warplanes in a campaign targeting leaders of the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Thousands have died in subsequent fighting, according to the International Crisis Group, while tens of thousands have fled into neighbouring Sudan.

The UN has been warning of a possible humanitarian catastrophe within Tigray, though a communications blackout has made it difficult to assess conditions on the ground.

“We signed an agreement giving unconditional access for humanitarian assistance wherever people are in need” in Tigray, a senior UN official told AFP Wednesday.

A second senior UN official also said it applied to all of the region’s roughly six million population.

READ ALSO: Tigray Leader Vows To Fight On After Abiy Declares Victory

Two assessment missions launched on Wednesday and more are expected soon, the officials said.

The text of the agreement states that “the UN and humanitarian partners” can access “vulnerable populations in (government)-administered areas in Tigray and bordering areas of Amhara and Afar regions”.

Abiy declared victory on Saturday night, saying that military operations in Tigray were “completed” — but the TPLF has vowed to fight on.

Senior Tigrayan official Wondimu Asamnew claimed Wednesday that federal forces were “encountering low-scale warfare all over Tigray” and that pro-TPLF fighters would launch a “full-scale offensive… in the near future”.

Wondimu also said in a statement that the TPLF had carried out a “strategic retreat” without sustaining heavy losses.

It is unclear if the government has control over the entire region, raising questions about whether the UN will actually have full access.

A spokeswoman for Abiy’s office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Food running out

Before the fighting began, around 600,000 people living in Tigray depended on food handouts, among them 96,000 Eritrean refugees.

The agreement notes that the region was also home to 42,000 malnourished women and children as well as 100,000 internally displaced people.

Food, fuel and cash are in short supply, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, while the International Committee of the Red Cross says basic medical equipment is lacking.

On Tuesday the UN refugee agency warned that Eritrean refugees in Tigray were believed to have run out of food, saying concerns for their welfare were “growing by the hour”.

A 4-year-old Ethiopian refugee girl poses for a photograph at the Village Eight transit centre which hosts Ethiopian refugees who fled the Ethiopia's Tigray conflict near the Ethiopian border in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on December 2, 2020. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A 4-year-old Ethiopian refugee girl poses for a photograph at the Village Eight transit centre which hosts Ethiopian refugees who fled the Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict near the Ethiopian border in Gedaref, eastern Sudan, on December 2, 2020.
Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Meanwhile, communications are returning to parts of Tigray.

Ethio Telecom, the country’s monopoly telecommunications provider, said Wednesday that services had partially resumed in cities including Humera, Dansha, Mai-Kadra and Mai-Tsebri.

It said services had fully resumed in the southern Tigray town of Alamata, and that officials were “working to restore telecom services in all areas of the region”.

Caretaker administration

Abiy intends to establish a caretaker administration in Tigray headed by Mulu Nega, formerly a senior official in Ethiopia’s higher education ministry.

On Wednesday Mulu announced administrators had been installed in the Tigray town of Shire, according to a report by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Analysts warn, however, that Mulu’s administration could meet resistance from the Tigrayan population.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before anti-government protests swept Abiy to power in 2018.

Since then TPLF leaders have complained of being removed from top positions, targeted in corruption prosecutions and broadly scapegoated for the country’s woes.

Tensions escalated dramatically after Tigray went ahead with regional elections in September, defying a nationwide ban on polls because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal officials declared the Tigray elections “illegal”, while the TPLF dismissed Abiy as an illegitimate ruler.

Ethiopia’s electoral board has said it expects to hold national elections in mid-2021.

Abiy met on Wednesday with political party and civil society representatives to discuss those preparations, according to his office.

Those in attendance discussed issues including “not rushing to elections without putting the necessary foundations in place” and “ensuring the primacy of rule of law preceding the elections”.

No details were provided on how these considerations might affect the timeline.

The delayed elections are seen as a critical milestone for the democratic reforms Abiy promised to deliver when he took office

 

AFP

UN Changes Casualty Figure From Zabarmari Attack

Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum and other officials attend the burial of the victims of slain farmers in Zabarmari area of the state on November 29, 2020. Credit: Borno State Govt

 

The United Nations has altered its casualty figure from the attack on farmers in Zabarmari, Borno on Saturday.

Earlier reports emanating from Borno said 43 farmers had been slaughtered by suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

The Nigerian military later confirmed the figure.

But, on Sunday, the United Nations put out a statement saying “at least 110 civilians” had died.

READ ALSO: Military Counted 43 Bodies Not 110, Says Enenche

The statement was signed by the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon.

But the agency, in another statement dated Sunday, said “tens of civilians” had died.

Premium Times reported on Monday that the UN spokesperson, Eve Sabbagh, confirmed the earlier numbers quoted by Mr. Kallon were not correctly sourced.

“Please note the number of 110 civilians killed on Saturday’s attack is an unconfirmed number and the correct version of the statement by the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator is the one published yesterday on Reliefweb and used on OCHA Nigeria’s Twitter account,” she reportedly said in an email to reporters.

Zabarmari Massacre: Military Counted 43 Bodies Not 110, Says Enenche

 

Military spokesman John Enenche on Monday said only 43 persons have been confirmed killed during the onslaught on farmers in Zabarmari, Borno on Saturday by suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

On Sunday, the United Nations had reported that 110 civilians had been killed.

“We have also received reports that several women may have been kidnapped. I call for their immediate release and return to safety,” the UN Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon said, in a statement.

“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice.”

READ ALSO: UN Says At Least 110 Were Killed In Borno, Demands Immediate Release Of Kidnapped Victims

Responding to the UN report during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Enenche said the military’s casualty count still stood at 43.

“I have to respond, it is coming from the United Nations,” he said. “This is a source that identified itself that 110 persons specifically were killed.”

According to him, military officials accompanied Governor Babagana Zulum to the site of the killings where the 43 bodies were counted.

But some persons had fled the scene, as they tried to escape the onslaught.

The spokesman added that the military is still searching for casualties.

“Probably we may count up to the figure he gave in the future,” Enenche said. “But as it is, up till the time I came here, what we have counted with the locals is still 43. And we are hoping that we don’t get beyond that. So that’s the real situation.”

What UN Is Doing About #EndSARS Protest – Deputy Secretary-General

 

The United Nations is aware of the recent protest by young Nigerians against police brutality and will make the necessary effort to ensure the issues raised by the youths are resolved.

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, stated this on Tuesday when she appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“What is the UN doing about that? We have been asked to provide support in three particular areas – first to make sure that these processes themselves can be stood up and can be ones that everyone is engaging in, and that can see the test of time over the next months and perhaps, years because this is a transformation that is going to take time,” she said.

According to the deputy UN chief, the second area where the UN’s intervention is needed is to support the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in setting up the panels that will investigate some of the issues raised by the youths and come up with resolutions in the shortest possible time.

She identified the third area as the support required to underpin the Police Act of 2020 to ensure that the reforms would take root and allow for a communication strategy to enable the government to inform people on time that it can follow the process and see what was happening.

Mohammed noted that since the beginning of the #EndSARS protest, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres kept a close eye on how the demonstration was evolving.

She hinted that the UN was always involved in Nigeria’s affairs because the country was very much a part of the organisation.

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 10, 2020.

 

“The UN support to the government is to make sure that we can put in those platforms, we can continue to support the bridge-building and the police reforms, the other governance reforms that have to be put in place to make this a reality in the short and in the long time,” the deputy secretary-general said.

An Endgame

For her, #EndSARS protest is an incredible movement of young people who are well-organised, well-intentioned, and have legitimate concerns and came together to make that felt.

Mohammed commended the courage of the youths for making some demands of the government on issues that have been worsened over time.

She said, “I think that was a good thing. I certainly was proud of young people that I knew were part of this but very quickly, we have to understand that when you go into a protest – and let’s remember we were all young and activists at one time – that you have to have an endgame.

“And in this particular case, there were demands made of government and the youths succeeded because, in the shortest possible time, the government responded to say ‘we are going to take care of these first issues that you have raised and many more that were raised thereafter.”

“That came to be, means that there is an engagement and that engagement needs to continue; it needs to continue by young people making sure they are there and pushing for those demands that they made to actualise.

“Government has to ensure that it has processes in place that are genuine, that we have confidence-building measures because trust is broken on both sides, and that we can move forward from the times of the protest,” the UN deputy chief added.

Trafficking Of Nuclear Materials Poses Threat To Int’l Peace, Security – Buhari

File Photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the trafficking of nuclear materials poses threat to international peace and security.

The President disclosed this on Friday during his video message to the UN High-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

While restating Nigeria’s commitment to the peaceful usage of nuclear energy, President Buhari called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

“We are concerned about the slow pace of progress by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with their legal obligations and undertakings under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” he said.

President Buhari also expressed concern about the “slow pace” of States possessing nuclear weapons in disarming and decommissioning their existing nuclear facilities.

According to him, there is a need for the United Nations to continue engaging the Nuclear Weapon States to speed up their efforts in disarming and decommissioning their existing nuclear facilities.

He said: “The best approach to avoid damage associated with nuclear materials such as humanitarian crisis, accidents, disasters, and criminality is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

TRAFFICKING IN NUCLEAR MATERIALS POTENTIAL THREAT TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE, SECURITY, PRESIDENT BUHARI WARNS AT UN SUMMIT

President Muhammadu Buhari Friday called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, warning that trafficking in nuclear materials remains a potential threat to international peace and security.

In his video message to the UN High-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, President Buhari restated Nigeria’s commitment to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

He, however, expressed concern about the ‘‘slow pace’’ of States possessing nuclear weapons in disarming and decommissioning their existing nuclear facilities.

”We are concerned about the slow pace of progress by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with their legal obligations and undertakings under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” President Buhari said.

Reiterating the need for the United Nations to continue engaging the Nuclear Weapon States to speed up their efforts in disarming and decommissioning their existing nuclear facilities, the Nigerian leader said:

”The best approach to avoid damage associated with nuclear materials such as humanitarian crisis, accidents, disasters and criminality is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

President Buhari told world leaders at the virtual summit that the universalization of the NPT was dependent upon strict compliance with its three pillars namely, disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

He, therefore, enjoined the other Member States to ratify the Treaty, noting that Nigeria had played a major role in negotiations leading to the coming into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty).

”We will continue to galvanize the other African States to abide by the tenets of the Pelindaba Treaty. This is to ensure that the entire continent remains nuclear-free.

”While there are no easy solutions when we confront one of the gravest existential threats to the survival of the human race, we must remain undeterred and committed to a world of safety and security, one without the volatility posed by Nuclear Weapons,” he said.

The Nigerian President said it was noteworthy that this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan that terminated the lives of thousands of people with severe long-term damages to the environment.

“The Anniversary is a forceful reminder of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons which undermine global, national and human security.

“Hence, there is need for all states to comply with applicable international laws and conventions to ensure a world free of nuclear weapons.

“We must, therefore, redouble our efforts to implement the provisions of the Nuclear NPT being the basis of the Non-Proliferation Regime.

“This is to enable us to achieve our desire for the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” the Nigerian leader said.

President Buhari used the occasion to highlight how Nigeria had demonstrated support for multilateral efforts towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The President recounted that as one of the countries in the vanguard of the campaign for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Nigeria signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 20th September 2017 and recently ratified it on 6th August 2020.

He noted that Nigeria joined like-minded states to sponsor the resolution titled “Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” which led to the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

”Nigeria has been involved in the promotion of the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology at national and international levels.

”Accordingly, Nigeria ratified several international treaties and conventions in the area of nuclear safety and security.

”We have also expressed political commitment to the IAEA Code of Conduct on safety and security of radioactive sources.

”More so, we have developed and approved the first International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Security Plan for the period 2010-2012 with further review to cover 2019-2021 period.

”In this connection, Nigeria commends the continued efforts of the IAEA, particularly its role in monitoring and inspecting nuclear facilities. We urge States to ensure compliance with IAEA safeguards and standards at all times as well as nuclear verification disarmament measures,” he said.

The President added that in order to facilitate the development and peaceful deployment of nuclear technology, Nigeria regulates and implements its energy aspiration through the relevant agencies.

”In addition, we are reforming the National Nuclear Security Sector to make it robust and reliable.

”These reforms involve the domestication of The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism; Review of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act; and Review of Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority Act.

”To further demonstrate our commitment to nuclear security, Nigeria successfully converted the Nigeria Research Reactor (NIRR-1), a 31 kilowatts miniature neutron source reactor from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium fuel.

”Also in 2019, the administration set up Nigeria’s Nuclear Security Support Centre and developed a Nuclear Security Detection Architecture to serve as a sustainable safeguard for maintaining nuclear security and detection of radioactive materials out of regulatory control,’’ he said.

President Buhari also reminded the Summit that the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice affirms that the threat or use of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, including international humanitarian law.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

October 2, 2020

World’s Workers Lost $3.5 Trillion In Wages Amid Pandemic – UN

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the UN said Wednesday, with hundreds of millions of jobs lost and workers suffering a “massive” drop in earnings.

In a fresh study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that by the mid-year point, global working hours had declined by 17.3 percent compared to last December — equivalent to nearly 500 million full-time jobs.

That is nearly 100 million more job-equivalents than the number forecast by the ILO back in June, when it expected 14 percent of working hours to be lost by the end of the second three-month period of the year.

“The impact has been catastrophic,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters in a virtual briefing, pointing out that global labour income had shrunk by 10.7 percent during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2019.

That amounts to a drop of some $3.5 trillion, or 5.5 percent of the overall global gross domestic product (GDP), the ILO said.

Since surfacing in China late last year, the novel coronavirus has killed nearly one million people worldwide out of the more than 31 million infected.

In addition to the health challenges, lockdowns, travel restrictions and other measures taken to rein in the virus have had a devastating impact on jobs and income across the globe.

– ‘Worsened significantly’ –

The ILO also warned that the outlook for the final three months of 2020 had “worsened significantly” since its last report in June.

The organisation had previously forecast that global working hours would be 4.9 percent lower in the fourth quarter than a year earlier, but said it now expected an 8.6 percent drop, which corresponds to 245 million full-time jobs.

It explained that workers in developing and emerging economies, especially those in informal jobs, had been much more affected than in past crises.

The ILO also pointed out that while many of the most stringent workplace closures have been relaxed, 94 percent of the world’s workers were in countries where some sort of workplace restrictions remain in place.

And Sangheon Lee, head of ILO’s employment policy division, warned that the situation for workers could worsen further.

If second waves of infections bring tighter restrictions and new lockdowns, he said, “the impact on the labour market could be comparable to the magnitude we saw in the second quarter of this year”.

Ryder cautioned against those pushing for policy makers to focus on economy over health in their response to the pandemic.

“It is very clear … that the capacity and the speed with which the global economy can get out of its labour market slump is intimately linked to our capacity to control the pandemic,” he said.

“These two things are very, very intimately intertwined, and we have to act on that understanding.”

The ILO’s report meanwhile showed that the labour market devastation could have been worse without the numerous fiscal stimulus packages provided by governments.

Without such stimulus efforts — amounting to around $9.6 trillion globally — global working hours would have shrunk by a full 28 percent in the second quarter, it said.

But it warned that fiscal stimulus was delivered very unevenly, with low- and middle-income countries receiving around $982 billion less in overall support than their wealthy counterparts.

Ryder urged international efforts to close the gap, insisting that “no group, country or region can beat this crisis alone.”

AFP

Mozambique Insurgency Will Deepen Food Insecurity Into 2021 – UN

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

Escalating conflict and deteriorating food security in northern Mozambique, where more than 300,000 people have abandoned their homes and crops, could see “crisis” levels of food insecurity continue into 2021, the World Food Programme warned Tuesday.

“We are deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado where conflict and violence have left people without access to food and livelihoods,” WFP spokeswoman in Mozambique Antonella D’Aprile said in a statement.

“Latest findings from Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET) indicate that communities will continue to face crisis levels of food insecurity into early 2021,” the statement said.

Tens of thousands of people who have lost access to food, and income sources are being deprived of humanitarian aid in northern Mozambique as extremist militants intensify an Islamist insurgency.

Since a spate of attacks on villages and towns in 2017, jihadists have killed more than 1,500 people and displaced over 300,000 according to WFP.

The Al-Shabaab Islamist group has occupied a strategic port in the town of Mocimboa da Praia in the north since August 12.

As the violence has intensified in the aid-dependent country over recent months, thousands of refugees have fled to neighbouring Tanzania, as well as into other northern Mozambican provinces, mainly Niassa and Nampula.

WFP said growing insecurity and poor infrastructure hampered efforts to reach out to people in need in the north, coupled with complexities brought on by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

It said the additional shocks would particularly affect women and children, given that more than half of children under five are chronically malnourished in the Cabo Delgado area, the second highest rate in the country.

The UN said that with Cabo Delgado currently recording Mozambique’s second-highest number of the country’s 6,912 coronavirus cases, population displacements could accelerate the spread of the virus.

The agency said it requires $4.7 million a month to assist the displaced in northern Mozambique, warning that it would be forced to reduce food rations as early as December if it does not secure the funds.

AFP