North Korea Sounds Warning As US, South Korea Begin Naval Drills

File footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is shown on a television screen at a train station in Seoul on September 9, 2022, after North Korea passed a law allowing it to carry out a preventive nuclear strike and declaring its status as a nuclear-armed state “irreversible”, state media said Friday. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

 

South Korea and the United States began their first combined naval exercise near the peninsula in five years on Monday, leading to a warning by North Korea that the allies risked triggering war.

South Korea’s hawkish President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to beef up joint military drills with the United States, after years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor.

“This exercise was prepared to demonstrate the strong will of the South Korea-US alliance to respond to North Korean provocations,” the South’s navy said in a statement.

At the United Nations, North Korea’s ambassador, Kim Song, said that the exercises draw “serious concern.”

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“Obviously, this is an extremely dangerous act of igniting the fuse to drive the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war,” he told the General Assembly.

The drills come a day after nuclear-armed Pyongyang conducted another ballistic missile launch, the latest in its record-breaking blitz of weapons tests this year.

Earlier this month, the North revised its nuclear weapons law, enshrining a “first strike” doctrine and vowing never to give up its nukes.

Kim told the United Nations that the United States “compelled” action by the North, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The US should clearly understand that its heinous, hostile policy against the DPRK over the past 30 years has brought about today’s reality and ask itself and ponder how far it will prolong this situation.”

Washington is Seoul’s key security ally and stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect it from the North.

The four-day exercise on South Korea’s east coast will involve more than 20 vessels and an assortment of aircraft, which will conduct drills for anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations, tactical manoeuvres and other maritime operations, the navy added.

“Through this exercise, we will further improve the ability to conduct joint operations between the naval forces of the two countries,” Kwak Kwang-sub, a senior South Korean naval officer, said in the statement.

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its programmes to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Close neighbour China said it had “noted” the joint military drills in the region when asked about the missile launch on Monday, and called for “dialogue and consultation”.

“The main issue is that the North Korean side’s legitimate and reasonable concerns have not received due response,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a routine briefing.

“The US should shoulder its own responsibilities, stop confrontation and pressure, and create conditions for the resumption of meaningful dialogue.”

Seoul has also detected signs the North is preparing to fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile, the president’s office said Saturday, a weapon Pyongyang last tested in May.

Washington and Seoul have long carried out joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive. North Korea, however, sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

Last month, the United States and South Korea staged their biggest combined military drills since 2018 — the resumption of large-scale training sessions that had been scaled back due to Covid-19 and the period of diplomacy with Pyongyang.

AFP

Buhari Says Investment In Security Yielding Good Dividends

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday expressed delight that investments in improving security are yielding good dividends, lauding the Nigeria military for making significant progress in the fight against insecurity and building the momentum in reducing challenges to its barest minimum.

Speaking at the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum held on the margins of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York, the President pledged that the Federal Government would do more to improve security, recognising that the sector is another critical element in the flow of investment, and overall economic and infrastructural development.

”We will continue to give all necessary support to our security outfits to ensure that they are able to tackle the challenge headlong”, he said, stressing that ”the advantages and disadvantages of investing in Nigeria far outweigh the challenges.”

President Buhari also declared that in spite of the global crisis fuelled by the Ukraine-Russian war, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and insurgency in some parts of the country, Nigeria is on course to taking her rightful place in the global economy.

He attributed the country’s success story to the implementation of reforms aimed at attracting foreign investments and sustained improvement in governance.

He noted that the quarterly GDP growth in Q1 2022 has been mostly driven by the non-oil sector, giving credence to the revenue source diversification agenda of government.

The President, however, acknowledged that more still needs to be done to improve private capital flows into Nigeria through Foreign Direct Investment and financing for infrastructure, affirming that the administration is leveraging the Integrated National Financing Strategy to address this.
On growth driven by the non-oil sector, the President said:

”The agricultural sector, our most important, has remained resilient in spite of security concerns, low irrigation, limited inputs, and legacy infrastructure challenges, with strong food demand bolstering growth. Growth in manufacturing reflected stronger household and business consumption on account of the reopening of economic activities and improvement in supply chains.

”The present growth in our service sector is promising. Further privatization, foreign investment, globalization and competition will serve to stimulate growth and competition in the service sector and the economy as a whole.

”On the domestic front, the Federal Government is taking some bold, decisive and urgent action to address revenue underperformance, and improve our operations to make investment in Nigeria very attractive.

”Overall, the Nigerian economy is ripe for increased investment. But on the contrary, private capital flows into Nigeria, consisting mainly of Foreign Direct Investment, have slowed, hindering the financing of much-needed infrastructure and natural resource access projects. Our Administration is already working on innovative ways to restore these flows.”

The President who was represented at the opening session by the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, told the international economic forum attended by Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank, and Florie Liser of the Corporate Council on Africa, among others that a key strategy being adopted to improve infrastructure financing is the Integrated National Financing Strategy.

He explained that the strategy seeks to identify ways to expand the financing envelope of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria, enhance the sustainable development impact of financing by seeking to integrate and align public and private financial policies, regulatory frameworks, instruments, and business processes with sustainable development.

He added that the private sector would play a significant role in the strategy.
The President also mentioned other efforts by his administration to improve the nation’s economic and development outlook, such as Nigeria’s National Development Plan (2021 – 2025) and the Presidential Power Initiative.

On Nigeria’s National Development Plan, the President stated that it was formulated against the backdrop of several subsisting development challenges in the country and the need to tackle them within the framework of medium and long-term plans.

”This all-encompassing plan, aims to generate 21 million full-time jobs and lift 35 million people out of poverty by 2025, thus setting the stage for achieving the government’s commitment of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

”To attain the objectives of the National Development Plan (2021 – 2025), we estimate that we would require an investment commitment of about N348 trillion. Government capital expenditure during the period will be N49.7 trillion (14.3 percent) while the balance of N298.3 trillion (85.7 percent) is expected from the Private Sector.

”Of the 14.3 percent government contribution, FGN capital expenditure will be N29.6 trillion (8.5 percent) while the Sub-National Governments’ capital expenditure is estimated to be about N20.1 trillion (5.8 percent).

”The successful implementation of this Plan will, therefore, be heavily dependent on strong partnerships between the private and public sector, both within and with Development Partners outside Nigeria.”

Regarding the power sector, President Buhari noted that his administration has recognized it as a major catalyst for Nigeria’s industrialization, adding that in July, 2021, the 614-kilometre Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project was launched to enhance energy security.

”Our Administration also provided the sovereign guarantee for this vital infrastructure project. When completed, this project will drive industrialization across the country.

”Furthermore, the first phase of the Presidential Power Initiative will provide over 40 million people with more reliable electricity supply, create 11,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.

”This will be from power system engineers to electricians and contractors, and this will in turn improve the standard of living while providing homes and businesses with constant, reliable, and affordable electricity supply. ”

The President recalled that at the commencement of his Administration, N200 billion was paid for stranded power to service existing liabilities:

”Contract terms in Power Purchase Agreements were changed from ‘Take or Pay’ to ‘Take and Pay.’ Similarly, the Distribution Companies were made to use banks for bill collections – prior to this, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) was getting only 50% of proceeds. Now, TCN is financially viable and can invest in its own infrastructure.”

Wishing the forum very successful deliberations, President Buhari assured them that the Federal Government of Nigeria is very keen to consider the outcome of the deliberations and recommendations to elevate the Nigeria project to its rightful place of magnitude.

Climate Change: Buhari Reiterates Nigeria’s Strong Commitment To Energy Transition Plan

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in New York restated the commitment of the Nigerian government towards ensuring that there is a rapid and strategic transition to renewable energy in response to the world-wide efforts for the preservation of the environment.

Speaking at a Leaders’ Closed-Door Meeting on Climate Change convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, coming before the commencement of the COP27 in November this year, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, President Buhari stressed that his administration had, in august this year, launched a home-grown, data-backed, multi-pronged energy transition plan, which is the country’s framework in achieving net-zero emissions by 2060.


READ ALSO: I Will Leave Legacy Of Free-And-Fair Elections, Buhari Tells UNGA


Highlighting some of the details in the plan, the President said that through the use of emerging technologies and alternative fuels such as hydrogen, bioenergy and waste-to-energy, a pathway would be created for accelerated decarburization of energy systems and harnessing of new and diverse technologies towards low carbon development while aligning to our broader developmental aspirations in a fair and just manner.

Speaking further, the Nigerian leader said, “the plan also sets out a timeline and framework for the attainment of emissions reduction across five key sectors: power, cooking, oil and gas, transport and industry,” adding that, “gas will play a critical role as a transition fuel in Nigeria’s net-zero pathway, particularly in the power and cooking sectors.

“The clean energy goals of the plan include modernizing the power sector with large-scale integration of renewable energy, enhancing energy efficiency and conservation; and is expected to generate 250 gigawatts of installed energy capacity with over 90% made up of renewables.”

Expressing his confidence that the plan would put the nation on the path of prosperity, President Buhari said that a careful implementation would create significant investment opportunities as it will engender the establishment and expansion of industries related to solar energy, hydrogen and electric vehicles.

“It will guide Nigeria’s rapid transition to renewable energy and result in significant job creation with up to 340,000 jobs created by 2030 and up to 840,000 jobs created by 2060 driven mainly by power, cooking and transport sectors.”

He commended Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his tireless efforts in the preparations for the COP27 and assured him of the support of the Nigerian Government.

Climate Change Indicators Hit Record Highs In 2021 – UN

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said Wednesday, warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe.

Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification all set new records last year, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its “State of the Global Climate in 2021” report.

The annual overview is “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

“The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe.

“We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home.”

The WMO said human activity was causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for ecosystems.

– Record heat –

The report confirmed that the past seven years were the top seven hottest years on record.

Back-to-back La Nina events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year.

Even so, it was still one of the warmest years ever recorded, with the average global temperature in 2021 about 1.11 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5C if possible.

“Our climate is changing before our eyes,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

“The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come. Sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless means to remove carbon from the atmosphere are invented.”

– ‘Consistent picture of warming world’ –

Four key indicators of climate change “build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system”, the report said.

Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 percent of the pre-industrial level.

Data indicate that they continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with monthly average CO2 at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022, the report said.

Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021, rising an average of 4.5 millimetres per year throughout 2013 to 2021, the report said.

GMSL rose by 2.1 mm per year between 1993 and 2002, with the increase between the two time periods “mostly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets”, it said.

– Signs in the seas –

Ocean heat hit a record high last year, exceeding the 2020 value, the report said.

And it is expected that the upper 2,000 metres of the ocean will continue to warm in the future — “a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales”, said the WMO, adding that the warmth was penetrating to ever deeper levels.

The ocean absorbs around 23 percent of the annual emissions of human-caused CO2 into the atmosphere. While this slows the rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, CO2 reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with “very high confidence” that open ocean surface acidity is at the highest “for at least 26,000 years”.

Meanwhile the report said the Antarctic ozone hole reached an “unusually deep and large” maximum area of 24.8 million square kilometres in 2021, driven by a strong and stable polar vortex.

Guterres proposed five actions to jump-start the transition to renewable energy “before it’s too late”.

Among them, he suggested ending fossil fuel subsidies, tripling investments in renewable energy and making renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, freely-available global public goods.

“If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century,” Guterres said.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres Arrives Nigeria On First Official Visit

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, arrives Nigeria on a two-day official visit to Africa’s most populous country on May 5, 2022.

 

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has arrived Nigeria on a two-day official visit to Africa’s most populous country.

He proceeded to Borno, the state ravaged by a decade-long insurgency as Nigeria makes concerted efforts to wipe out terrorism.

According to the United Nations information center in Nigeria, Guterres is expected to meet with the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum in Maiduguri, the state capital before embarking on a field mission where he will meet families affected by the Boko Haram conflict ravaging the region for more than 12 years.

READ ALSO: Journalists Face Attempts To Silence Them From Many Sides – UN

The UN chief will also evaluate the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and assess progress made as well as the challenges to the COVID-19 recovery.

From there, he is scheduled to head to Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and other top cabinet officials.

In Abuja, Guterres is expected to officiate a wreath-laying ceremony for victims of the 2011 bombing at the U.N. house and will then meet with young people’s delegates, women, religious leaders and diplomatic communities and journalists.

It is the first visit by the U.N. secretary-general to Nigeria since his appointment. The visit is part of his annual Ramadan solidarity visits to nations.

See the photos below:

 

Russian Actions In Ukraine ‘May Amount To War Crimes’- UN

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021, the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

 

The United Nations on Friday accused Russia of taking action in Ukraine “that may amount to war crimes”, including an indiscriminate bombing that killed civilians and destroyed schools and hospitals.

“Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure, actions that may amount to war crimes,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

More Than 8.4m People Require Humanitarian Assistance In North-East – UN

A 23-year-old mother of two young children sits outside her makeshift shelter in an informal IDP settlement in Damaturu, Yobe State. Photo: OCHA/Christina Powell.
A 23-year-old mother of two young children sits outside her makeshift shelter in an informal IDP settlement in Damaturu, Yobe State. Photo: OCHA/Christina Powell.

 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Friday said more than 8.4 million people require humanitarian assistance and protection in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

The UN body, in a statement, also noted that the number of acutely malnourished children and women is expected to significantly increase in 2022.

More than a billion dollars is needed to deliver life-saving food security and nutrition, it added.

“After averting catastrophe in 2021, danger looms again for the people of north-east Nigeria if efforts are not sustained,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: Nigeria, Other Nations At High Risk Of Debt Distress, IMF Warns In New Report

“In 2021 humanitarian actors quickly responded to stave off a potentially catastrophic food security and nutrition crisis, resulting largely from protracted conflict. Preliminary results from the latest round of the Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis project further deterioration of the food security situation in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states in 2022, where more than 8.4 million people require humanitarian assistance and protection.

“The March 2022 CH projects 4.1 million people in need (IPC Phase 3 or above) during the peak of the 2022 lean season, of whom an estimated 587,955 people are projected to be in an emergency situation (Phase 4). According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) acute malnutrition analysis (IPC AMN) from September 2021 – August 2022 the number of acutely malnourished children and women is expected to significantly increase in the year 2022 and further worsen in the lean season.
These are anticipated to be the highest levels observed since the emergency period of 2016. The analysis indicates that 1.74 million children aged 6-59 months will need treatment for acute malnutrition in 2022.

“Deteriorating food consumption patterns are contributing to the worsening food security and nutrition situation. The March 2022 CH analysis showed severe consumption deficits, extending beyond Borno State, and the February 2022 Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) revealed that 42.1% of households in BAY states had insufficient food intake, as compared to 37.8% at the same period in 2021.

“The 2022 HRP is seeking $1.1 billion to support 5.5 million people. $351 million is urgently needed to deliver life-saving food security and nutrition assistance to the most affected people.”

7.1 Million Persons Internally Displaced In Ukraine – UN

Ukrainians who have fled the war in their country arrive at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in Tokyo on April 5, 2022, following a visit to the Polish-Ukraine border by Japan’s foreign minister. PHOTO: KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

 

More than 7.1 million are estimated to have been internally displaced by Russia’s war in Ukraine, having fled their homes but remained in the country, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The figure issued by the UN’s International Organization for Migration is up from the 6.48 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) estimated in a first study by the IOM on March 16.

READ ALSO: Zelensky Calls Killings In Bucha ‘Genocide’

“People continue to flee their homes because of war, and the humanitarian needs on the ground continue to soar,” said IOM director general Antonio Vitorino.

“Humanitarian corridors are urgently needed to allow the safe evacuation of civilians and ensure the safe transportation and delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid in order to rapidly assist those internally displaced.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, causing millions to flee their homes — including more than 4.2 million Ukrainians who have left the country entirely.

The IOM conducted its second survey between March 24 and April 1, and estimated that 7,138,715 people were internally displaced within Ukraine as of Friday.

Fifty-nine percent of IDPs were estimated to be women.

It was estimated that nearly 2.4 million people had fled the Kyiv region; 2.4 million had fled the east; and 1.7 million had fled the north.

The survey found that 41 percent of the IDPs — 2.9 million people — were now located in the west of the country.

It found that more than 60 percent of displaced households had children; 57 percent included elderly members; and 30 percent had people with chronic illnesses.

More than a third of displaced households indicated that they had had no income in the last month.

 

 

– Safety fears –

Beyond the estimated 7.1 million IDPs, “more communities in need remain trapped”, said the IOM.

A further 2.9 million people were estimated to be considering leaving their homes.

As for the reasons why people are staying in their homes, 16 percent said it was not safe for them to leave; six percent said they did not want to leave family members behind; three percent said they would not know where to go, and one percent said they could not leave due to health issues.

The rapid representative assessment was conducted through interviews with 2,000 anonymous respondents aged over 18 who were contacted at random over the telephone.

The survey is used by the IOM to gather insights into internal displacement and mobility, and to assess the humanitarian needs in Ukraine.

The IOM said cash, transportation, food, shelter and hygiene items were among the most pressing needs for displaced people.

IDPs also need greater access to medicines and health services, the organisation said.

AFP

Nearly 836,000 Refugees Have Fled Ukraine Conflict – UN

Ukrainian refugees are seen in a temporary shelter for refugees in the village of Barabas, Hungary, close to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border on March 2, 2022. The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 836,000, United Nations figures showed on March 2, 2022, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia’s invasion. PHOTO: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

 

The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 836,000, United Nations figures showed Wednesday, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia’s invasion.

In all, 835,928 people have fled across the country’s borders, according to the website of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

That marks a huge jump from the 677,000 announced Tuesday afternoon by the organisation’s chief Filippo Grandi.

More than half have headed west into Poland, according to tallies completed up to Tuesday.

UNHCR figures show that 454,000 people had fled to Poland; 116,000 to Hungary; 67,000 to Slovakia; 65,000 to Moldova, 43,000 to Russia, 38,000 to Romania and 350 to Belarus.

Meanwhile, 52,000 have moved on to other European countries.

An additional 96,000 people had crossed into Russia from the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions between February 18 and 23, UNHCR noted.

Russian forces said they had captured the Ukrainian port of Kherson on Wednesday, as Russian and Ukrainian troops battled in the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow wanted to “erase” his country.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Dole Out Over $1bn Aid To Afghanistan

“The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has driven many thousands of people from their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” UNHCR said.

“There is a clear indication that many more people are on the move. They are in need of protection and support.”

UNHCR projects that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries.

The UN on Tuesday launched an emergency appeal for $1.7 billion to provide urgent humanitarian aid to people caught up in the Russian invasion inside Ukraine and for the refugees fleeing the violence.

Grandi said $550.6 million of that was needed to help refugees across the region, with the aim to provide shelter, emergency relief items, cash assistance, and psycho-social support.

“We are looking at what could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century,” the refugee agency chief said.

Grandi said the first wave of people fleeing across Ukraine’s borders were likely to be people with cars, resources, and some connections in other European countries.

But if Russia’s military offensive continues and more urban centres are hit, people who are “more vulnerable in every respect” could start to flee, he told reporters.

AFP

Buhari To Attend UN Session In Kenya, Visit London For Two-Week Medical Check-Up

President Muhammadu Buhari (File Photo)

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to attend a special session to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Environmental Programme ([email protected] 50), scheduled for March 3 and 4, 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya.

This follows an invitation by his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President is expected to depart Abuja later today.

Read Also: Ukraine: FG To Begin Evacuation Of Nigerians From Wednesday – Onyeama

The theme of the Special Session is “Strengthening UNEP for the Implementation of the Environmental Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

“For 50 years, UNEP has coordinated a worldwide effort with Member States to address the world’s biggest environmental challenges. Member States are vital partners in formulating UNEP’s policy, implementing UNEP’s programme and championing solutions to our shared environmental challenges.

[email protected] is a time to reflect on the past and envision the future. It provides an opportunity to reinvigorate international cooperation and spur collective action to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. No country or continent can solve these global crises alone. But each nation has a crucial role to play in protecting our people and planet.”

At the event, President Buhari is expected to deliver the National Statement of the country and participate in High-Level Dialogue Sessions on the Environment.

He will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of State for the Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, National Security Adviser, Maj.Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, and the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

From Kenya, the President is expected to proceed to London for routine medical checks that will last for a maximum of two weeks.

World Must Brace For More Extreme Wildfires, Says UN

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 25, 2021 the United Nations logo is seen inside the United Nations in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

The number of major wildfires worldwide will rise sharply in coming decades due to global warming, and governments are ill-prepared for the death and destruction such mega-blazes trail in their wake, the UN warned Wednesday.

Even the most ambitious efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions will not prevent a dramatic surge in the frequency of extreme fire conditions, a report commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded.

“By the end of the century, the probability of wildfire events similar to Australia’s 2019–2020 Black Summer or the huge Arctic fires in 2020 occurring in a given year is likely to increase by 31–57 percent,” it said.

The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes, and more extreme weather means stronger, hotter and drier winds to fan the flames.

Such wildfires are burning where they have always occurred, and are flaring up in unexpected places such as drying peatlands and thawing permafrost.

“Fires are not good things,” said co-author Peter, an expert in forest fire management at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“The impacts on people — socially, health-wise, psychologically — are phenomenal and long-term,” he told journalists in a briefing.

Large wildfires, which can rage uncontrolled for days or weeks, cause respiratory and heart problems, especially for the elderly and very young.

A recent study in The Lancet concluded that exposure to wildfire smoke results, on average, in more than 30,000 deaths each year across 43 nations for which data was available.

Economic damages in the United States — one of the few countries to calculate such costs — have varied between $71 to $348 billion (63 to 307 billion euros) in recent years, according to an assessment cited in the report.

– Zombie fires –

Major blazes can also be devastating for wildlife, pushing some endangered species closer to the brink of extinction.

Nearly three billion mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs were killed or harmed, for example, by Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires, scientists have calculated.

Wildfires are made worse by climate change.

Heatwaves, drought conditions and reduced soil moisture amplified by global warming have contributed to unprecedented fires in the western United States, Australia and the Mediterranean basin just in the last three years.

Even the Arctic — previously all but immune to fires — has seen a dramatic increase in blazes, including so-called “zombie fires” that smoulder underground throughout winter before bursting into flames anew.

But wildfires also accelerate climate change, feeding a vicious cycle of more fires and rising temperatures.

Last year, forests going up in flames emitted more than 2.5 billion tonnes of planet-warming CO2 in July and August alone, equivalent to India’s annual emissions from all sources, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) reported.

Compiled by 50 top experts, the report called for a rethink on how to tackle the problem.

“Current government responses to wildfires are often putting money in the wrong places,” investing in managing fires once they start rather than prevention and risk reduction, said UN Environment chief Inger Andersen.

“We have to minimise the risk of extreme wildfires by being prepared.”

Four Missing Afghan Women Activists Released, Says UN

In this file photo taken on September 23, 2019 the United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall. The UN voiced alarm July 19, 2021 at reports that several governments used Israeli phone malware to spy on activists, journalists and others, stressing the urgent need for better regulation of surveillance technology.
Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

Four women activists in Afghanistan have been released by the country’s “de facto authorities” after going missing weeks ago, the United Nations said Sunday.

“After a long period of uncertainty about their whereabouts and safety, the four ‘disappeared’ Afghan women activists, as well as their relatives who also went missing, have all been released by the de facto authorities,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Twitter.

Tamana Zaryabi Paryani, Parwana Ibrahimkhel, Zahra Mohammadi and Mursal Ayar went missing after participating in an anti-Taliban rally, but Afghanistan’s hardline Islamist rulers had consistently denied detaining them.

AFP reported the release of Ibrahimkhel late on Friday. She went missing along with Paryani on January 19, days after taking part in a rally in Kabul calling for women’s right to work and education.

Weeks later, Mohammadi and Ayar went missing.

The Taliban, whose government is still not recognised by any country, have promised a softer version of the harsh rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.

But since storming back to power in August, they have cracked down on dissent by forcefully dispersing women’s rallies, detaining critics and often beating local journalists covering unsanctioned protests.