Nigeria Pays $5.08m Full UN Dues

Nigeria has paid its regular UN dues for 2018, making it the 74th out of the 193 Member States of the global international organisation to fulfill its financial obligations.

The Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said in New York that Nigeria paid its annual dues in full.

Ms Dujarric said: “Nigeria has paid its regular budget dues in full, bringing the Honour Roll to 74”.

Checks by the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York showed that Nigeria paid 5,080,178 dollars on April 5.

One hundred and nineteen members are yet to pay their regular budgets.

The records also reports that Nigeria became the 10th country in Africa to pay its UN regular budgets in full.

In 2016, Nigeria had asked the UN to review its assessed contributions to the organisation in view of the economic recession in the country at the time.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, made the call at the UN Headquarters in New York when she visited the Chairman of the UN Fifth Committee, Kingston Rhodes.

The Fifth Committee is the committee of the General Assembly with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters.

Nigeria was expected to pay outstanding contributions of 10. 2 million dollars as at December 2016.

Ms. Oyo-Ita said: “Due to recession, we want something done to review our dues and we want the UN to reconsider our assessment due to the realities of the time.

“What Nigeria is being asked to pay now is on the high side. Nigeria is committed to paying its contributions but we want some considerations.

“We want something to be done to re-adjust our scale.”

Nigeria’s scale of assessment for 2013 to 2015 was 0.119 before the re-basing of the country’s economy in 2014.

However, with the re-basing of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 500 million dollars, the scale of assessment of Nigeria increased to 0.209 for the period 2016 to 2018.

Nigeria has been pursuing the re-adjustment of the scale due to the economic reality of the country.

However, Mr. Rhodes had told Ms. 0Oyo-Ita that the UN was aware of the economic situation in the country but that the effort was hindered by the General Assembly Resolution that cancelled annual review of scale of assessment.

The Fifth Committee Chairman explained that the Resolution now established three years minimum period of scale of assessment.

According to him, therefore, Nigeria’s scale would be due for review in 2018, being the next scale year. (NAN)

233 Billion Spent In Humanitarian Response In 10 Years

The United Nation Secretary General António Guterres has said that the world need to invest a lot in preventing crises while revealing that at least 233 billion dollars was spent on humanitarian response, peacekeeping and hosting refugees in the last 10 years.

Guterres further warned that the world is witnessing human suffering on a scale hard to comprehend. He told an informal meeting of his report on ‘Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace’ that “if the financial cost is unsustainable, the human cost is unbearable.

“Instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention. Prevention works, saves lives and is cost-effective.”

Guterres rallied for Peacebuilding Fund, saying it is “a critical tool” to achieve this and urging all to increase the Fund’s resources to 500 million dollars annually.

He explained that other innovative financing solutions were also being explored, including web-based mechanisms and crowdfunding.

“These proposals should be seen firmly in the context of peace and security, and should not impact on funds for sustainable development in any way,” Guterres emphasised.

According to him, the imbalance between spending on conflict, and spending on peace, must be tackled head-on.

He rallied all international actors “for our efforts across the peace continuum – from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development.”

He explained that inclusive and sustainable development makes a critical contribution to conflict prevention.

“Sustaining peace is both a goal and a process that relies on building a common and cohesive vision of a society that takes the needs of all into account,” he stated.

Guterres noted that “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our global path to a safer, more sustainable and resilient world.”

He also argued that a failure to adequately finance peacebuilding would undermine other efforts to save lives, stabilise countries in crisis, alleviate suffering and protect the vulnerable.

President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, noted that the Assembly called for a new approach “for more capacity for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, on the ground.”

Lajčák evoked the call for financing sustained peace, “Not for a month, or a year – but over the long-term.”

Lajčák called the Secretary-General’s report “a strong guide on how we can go forward” and the High-Level Meeting an opportunity “to chart the course ahead.”

 

UN Calls For “Unconditional Release” Of Dapchi Girls

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted students of the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, in Yobe State.

In a statement by his spokesman on Nigeria, Stephane Dujarric, on Wednesday, Mr Guterres condemned the attack that led to the abduction of the girls by suspected Boko Haram terrorists from their school on Monday last week.

The UN boss, who is gravely concerned over the situation, asked the Nigerian government to ensure the safe return of the girls to their families.

He also urged the national authorities to swiftly bring those responsible for the act to justice.

The Secretary-General further reassured the Federal Government of the solidarity and support of the United Nations and other affected countries in the region in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

While there had been disputing figures of the abducted girls, the Federal Government put the total number of students unaccounted for after the attack at 110.

In a bid to further prove this, the names and full details of the girls were made public in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.

Prior to the release of the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to ensure the release of all Nigerians in the custody of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

The President made the pledge on Monday in Abuja when he received the University of Maiduguri lecturers and 10 women who recently regained freedom from the insurgents.

In his words, President Buhari said: “I can’t fully express the joy I felt I this afternoon, as I received our citizens recently released from Boko Haram captivity — fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. We will go to any length to ensure that no one is left behind in the hands of terrorists. Every Nigerian life matters!”

“There were the University of Maiduguri lecturers, abducted while on service to their fatherland, and also the women abducted from a funeral procession. Today they are safely back home, and Nigeria rejoices with them and with their families,” he added.

 

Sexual Harassment: UN Launches 24-Hour Helpline For Staffs

Following a worldwide rise in cases of sexual harassment in different sectors, the United Nations has launched a 24 hour helpline to enable staffs call out sexual harassment in workplace.

This was revealed by Secretary-General António Guterres in an email sent to staff members. He further revealed that the help-line was meant to speak confidentially to trained officials who could provide protection for them.

“The helpline is a 24-hour resource for UN Secretariat personnel to speak confidentially with an impartial and trained individual who can provide information on protection, support and reporting mechanisms,” he said.

The ‘Speak up’ helpline, which goes live on Tuesday, is part of the UN’s five-point plan to address such behaviour within its ranks and would complement existing reporting mechanisms.

The UN chief said the goal is to attend to the needs of personnel, and to empower them to make informed decisions on action, if they choose.

The Investigations Division of the Office of Internal Oversight Services will, with immediate effect, take responsibility for investigating all complaints of sexual harassment.

In addition, it would implement a streamlined, fast-tracked procedure to receive, process and address complaints.

He said a specialised team focusing on the investigation of sexual harassment is also being created.

Guterres added that additional investigators are under recruitment, with particular attention given to increasing the number of female investigators.

“I reiterate my commitment to zero tolerance of sexual harassment, and underline that harassment of any type is antithetical to the principles for which we stand as an organisation,” he said.

As members of a standard-setting institution, he said, the UN must be committed to fostering an inclusive environment in which every person is valued and respected.

According to him, a harmonious, safe and civil workplace is a key to delivering on its mandates for the people it serves.

 

France Urges United Nation’s Top Court To Dump Equatorial Guinea Case

France on Monday urged the UN’s top court to throw out a case brought against it in a bitter diplomatic row with oil-rich Equatorial Guinea over French accusations of top-level corruption.

“France has not accepted the jurisdiction of this court under any title whatsoever to entertain those facts on which Equatorial Guinea seeks the court to rule,” the French representative Francois Alabrune told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Malabo has accused Paris of violating the diplomatic immunity of its vice president, Teodorin Obiang, after he was prosecuted by a French court on charges of embezzling 150 million euros ($180 million) of public funds to finance his jet-set lifestyle.

Obiang, 48, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, was tried in absentia and sentenced in October to a three-year suspended sentence for corruption.

The top official from the small central African state was also given a suspended fine of 30 million euros ($35 million) for money laundering, corruption and abuse. His lawyer has said he will appeal.

But Equatorial Guinea has also lodged a complaint with the ICJ in The Hague, the UN’s top court set up to resolve disputes between countries.

Four days of hearings opened Monday, with France setting out its reasons why it believed the ICJ is not competent to hear the case.

Equatorial Guinea contends however that not only was the Vienna Convention conferring diplomatic immunity on Obiang broken, but French officials also failed to uphold the diplomatic status of a building it maintains is Malabo’s embassy in Paris.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema is Africa longest-serving president and has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979. He extended his rule in April 2016 when he was re-elected with 93.7 percent of the vote.

He appointed his son as vice president in June 2016 — two years after the first charges were first brought in France.

In 2012, French authorities swooped on the Obiang family’s six-storey mansion on the Avenue Foch — one of the most upmarket addresses in Paris — seizing it along with a fleet of luxury cars including two Bugatti Veyrons and a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Police also took away vanloads of valuables, including paintings, a $4.2-million clock and fine wines worth thousands of euros per bottle.

The UN judges in The Hague in 2016 urged France to ensure the protection of the diplomatic mission in Paris, but sidestepped Malabo’s request to order Obiang’s trial to be halted.

Relations between the two countries have furthered deteriorated after Malabo’s foreign minister, Agapito Mba Mokuy, said an attempted coup in December had been hatched on French soil, although he said the French authorities had “nothing to do with” it.

AFP

 

8.5 Million People Need Support In North-Eastern Nigeria

A recent fact-sheet by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) has revealed that over 8.5 million persons need life-saving support due to humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

The survey shows that 5.2 million people are facing food insecurity and 5.1 million persons targeted for food security interventions, while humanitarian organisations in collaboration with the Federal Government provided support to three million persons under the emergency food intervention programme in 2017.

It showed that about 3.4 million persons, particularly children, expectant and nursing mothers need nutrition support, while 2.7 million were targeted for assistance within the period under review.

OCHA explained that 2.1 million persons had so far benefited from various nutrition interventions designed to control malnutrition in the war-ravaged region.

Equally, more than 5.6 million of the estimated 6.9 million persons received health care service support through effective interventions provided by humanitarian organisations, and that 4 million persons benefited from out-patient services and 1.6 million persons under mobile medical activities.

The UN agency revealed that 2.9 million children need education support, while 986, 100 of the 1.6 million targeted children, received education intervention between January and October, 2017.

“Some 787, 000 children received formal and non-formal education support, and 138, 400 children provided with learning materials.

“Psycho-social support and basic life skills training were conducted for 11, 500 teachers,” the agency said, noting that humanitarian organisation received only 18 per cent of the total funding required.

The document further showed that 3.9 million people need water, sanitation and hygiene services, and that the agency provided support to two million of the 2.4 million persons targeted for interventions.

Other highlights of the humanitarian activities in 2017 include the provision of safe drinking water to two million displaced persons and distribution of hygiene kits to 1.1 million people, while 773, 000 persons were provided with improved sanitation facilities.

On protection, the agency said that over 6.9 million people needed protection intervention, explaining that 2.4 persons were reached with intervention in the affected states.

However, the UN decried the spate of violence against civilians and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), stressing that urgent measures were necessary to enhance protection and security of persons affected by the conflict.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs Amina Mohammed, had paid a two-day assessment visit to Borno in January, to enable the organisation scale up stabilisation process in the region.

Mohammed visited Bama, one of the communities liberated by the military from the insurgents, the Military Command and Control Centre and the Military Cemetery, Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri.

She said that the visit was to assess gaps in humanitarian needs, identify areas of interventions and reconstruction efforts recorded by the government so that she could report back to the UN secretariat.

“My visit to Bama is to see what the Government of Nigeria and the Borno Government with the support from the UN system have achieved in the past years. What are the challenges and the gaps to address?

“And to interact with those that are working in the frontline, to hear from humanitarian workers, our agencies and organisations about the funds that we have put on the Federal and State Governments’ programmes.

“The visit availed us with the opportunity to speak with IDPs and the military, with a view to understanding best on how we can address the situation to save more lives.

“How we can deal and maintain the crises; work toward the resettlement and reintegration of displaced persons back to their communities’’.

Mohammed noted that the Federal and the State Government had achieved significant feat in rehabilitation and reconstruction projects, stressing that there is considerable improvement from what has happened in the past two years.

“Certainly, more can be done and that is why we are here.

“I will say that the funds raised at the Oslo conference for North-East Humanitarian intervention were properly utilised and we have seen the benefits of it. We look forward for another opportunity to bring more funds to Borno,” she said.

Meanwhile, Prof. Babagana Zulum, the Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, disclosed that over 11,000 residential homes, 170 classrooms, 11 schools, electrification and water projects were completed in Bama.

Zulum explained that the projects were designed to facilitate voluntary return of displaced persons to their ancestral homes, build resilience and provide means of livelihoods to enable them to continue with their normal lives.

According to him, the government had rehabilitated and reconstructed residential homes, schools, clinics, palaces, markets, security posts, offices and provided basic amenities in the liberated communities.

Also, Gov. Kashim Shettima, said the UN had demonstrated greater commitments to address the humanitarian crisis in the North-East region.

Shettima lauded the gesture and commended the UN deputy-secretary over her support to persons affected by the conflict in the North-East.

“While as minister in Nigeria, she showed the strongest empathy toward us in Borno.

“She visited Chibok over the abduction of schoolgirls and also visited Bama when the town was liberated from the insurgents,” the governor said.

According to the 2016 Recovery and Peace Building Assessment Report, about one million residential homes; 665 public structures; 5, 335 classrooms; 201 healthcare centres; ‎776 electricity installations were destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.

The report was jointly authored by the World Bank (WB), the European Union (EU), the Federal Government and governments of the affected states in the region.

To address the problem, the UN noted that improved funding was imperative to scale up activities and fast track implementation of humanitarian interventions in the war ravaged region.

The UN stressed that humanitarian crisis in North-East remains severe due to inadequate funding, ongoing conflict, continued internal displacement and unpredictable return of refugees from neighbouring countries.

“In planning and programming, the month of October is dedicated by humanitarian partners to carry in-depth assessment.

“The findings will feed into the humanitarian overview and 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan,” it said.

 

UN Issues Forty-Eight Hours Ultimatum To Armed Groups

The UN Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has given armed groups in the north of the country 48 hours to clear out, saying it intends to clear a 50-kilometre perimeter around the town allowing displaced persons to return.

Recall that over the last three weeks, some 60,000 people, mostly women, left everything behind to escape clashes between the armed groups; Justice Riot and the National Movement for the Liberation of the Central African Republic.

“Again, civilians in Central African Republic are paying a heavy price in clashes between armed groups since the end of December 2017, fighting between armed movements.

“The displaced persons have ended up in Paoua, where some 40,000 residents took them in. Now the food and water is running out, the CAR Humanitarian Coordinator Najat Rochdi, said.

According to him, the humanitarian community is responding to the needs of tens of thousands of newly displaced people who have fled ongoing clashes between armed groups in the northern region of Paoua.

The UN and partners have provided food to displaced families and host families would also receive assistance while free healthcare services were being offered to the displaced and host families.

Humanitarian agencies are also distributing hygiene kits to contain the spread of contagious diseases, while the Government has provided soap and clothes, Rochdi said.

“Yesterday, aid workers also began the construction of community hangars to temporarily shelter those displaced who are not staying with host families.

“More displacement is expected as fighting continues. Paoua town, which previously had 40,000 inhabitants, has seen its population triple in a few weeks. Villages 50 kilometres north of Paoua are almost empty,” he said.

 

Food Supply Needed Urgently For South Sudan

Unless food is procured and distributed to millions of people urgently in South Sudan, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that South Sudan’s food security situation will worsen in 2018 compared to 2017.

WFP Deputy Country Director Simon Cammelbeek told journalists on Tuesday that the UN agency needs to urgently procure and distribute food by air drops to six million people in hard-to-reach areas before the coming rainy season.

“The food security situation is not good and the indication we get is that the harvest last year (2017) was less than the year before,” he revealed in Juba.

South Sudan in December 2017 had launched humanitarian appeal estimated at 1.72 billion dollars.

A report released by the Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) in 2017 said an earlier-than-normal start of the lean season will result in an estimated 5.1 million people (48 per cent of the total population) being classified as severely food insecure in January-March 2018.

“It’s very important that we also take this opportunity in the current month to procure food and distribute food to those areas which will not be reachable during the rainy season.

“So as much as we have to wait for the final (IPC) assessment the indications are clear it (food situation) is worse than last year,” Cammelbeek said.

Violence continues unabated in the world’s youngest nation despite repeated stern warning of consequences to the warring parties by the international community and regional East African leaders after several cease-fire violations.

Cammelbeek said that the humanitarian needs continue to worsen in the country where donors have been supportive of WFP and other partners’ efforts.

He said that additional resources are urgently required to help mount an effective and timely response to tackle hunger.

He said that the planting season begins in February and they will liaise with the government on how to extend support to farmers.

“Whereas famine conditions were averted in 2017 thanks in part to the extensive and large scale response by WFP and partners, some 6 million people are unable to meet their daily food needs already in January this year.

“We must do everything in our power and work jointly to ensure food and nutritional assistance for all,” Cammelbeek said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Machar to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.

 

UN Solicits $1b For Nigeria, Others

The Secretary-General of the United Nations. António Guterres has called for a one billion dollars donor contributions to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fund life-saving works in Nigeria and other countries.

CERF is a pool of funding that supports critical relief operations in crises area around the world. The humanitarian needs have increased from $5.2 billion in 2005 to over $24 billion today.

Guterres said “CERF is without question one of our most important tools to reach people quickly and save lives.

“In 2018, protracted crises are likely to continue, while the impact of climate change is likely to grow and intensify.

“There is no sign of a let-up in humanitarian needs,” the UN chief said, noting that this was why the General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2016 calling for an expansion of CERF’s annual funding target from 450 million dollars to one billion dollars…

“One billion dollar is an ambitious but achievable goal… a strong United Nations needs a strong CERF.”

The fund also supported relief responses in other places, including for Palestine refugees in Gaza, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean

Protracted conflict and the impact of natural disasters, compounded by structural fragility and chronic vulnerability, meant that more people than ever before survive on the brink of disaster, he said.

Unknown Gunmen Kill Three UN Peacekeepers, Malian Solider

The UN mission has revealed that three UN peacekeepers and one Malian soldier were killed and several others were wounded on Friday in an attack by unidentified assailants in northeast Mali.

The mission (MINUSMA) said the soldiers came under fire during a joint operation in Menaka, near Mali’s border with Niger where raids by jihadist groups, some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have spiked over last year.

“I condemn in the strongest terms this attack that has once again befallen the MINUSMA force as well as the (Malian army),” UN Mission Head, Mahamat Annadif, said in a statement.

Jihadist groups have exploited the porous borders between Mali and neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso to expand their range of operations, alarming Western powers, who fear the growing influence of militants in the region.

A 2013 French-led military intervention drove back militants, who had seized control of Mali’s desert north a year earlier, but they have regrouped and now launched regular attacks against Malian soldiers, UN peacekeepers and civilians.

 

UN Commends Jonathan For Promoting Peace In Africa

The United Nations, UN, complimented the former President Goodluck Jonathan for the electoral reforms he initiated during his tenure, and for the good works he has been doing to promote peace and stability in Africa.

Explaining Jonathan’s achievements, the UN prayed that the institutions he built and the high standards he established in organizing credible and peaceful elections are maintained and sustained in Nigeria.

Jonathan the global organization made this known during a courtesy call on Jonathan by a delegation led by Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, and Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC).

Speaking of the 2015 general elections, Chambas who was accompanied by the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Edward Kallon, commended ex-President Jonathan’s roles in stemming the tide of agitations which threatened Nigeria’s unity ahead of the elections.

He said: “What we noticed in 2015 was that there was a display of maturity in the way the elections were handled.

There was hardly any major incident between the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). The problems were mostly internal to parties.”

According to him, the delegation came to express appreciation to Jonathan for the good works he has been doing to promote democracy, peace, and stability in Africa, noting that the ex-President

“still continues to do good with his decision to serve as the leader of one of the election observation missions to the forthcoming presidential run-off in Liberia.”

Chambas further told the former President that the UN was seeking his support to ensure the success of a scheduled all party stakeholders forum similar to the inter-party peace forum which held under the Jonathan Administration.

In his response, Jonathan commended Chambas and his team for the initiative and congratulated the special envoy for moving up to a higher platform, after serving as the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Ex-President Jonathan also commended the UN for its support in election processes in West Africa and in all of Africa, noting that the efforts of ECOWAS leaders had ensured that West Africa had remained relatively peaceful. He said further:

“First let me welcome you and your team. I believe this is a familiar environment for you because you had been with us in ECOWAS. I am happy that you have now gone higher than the ECOWAS level.

Let me also, through you and your team, commend what the UN is doing in terms of its proactive approach in sanitizing election processes in Africa.”

Jonathan also noted that electoral processes in Nigeria were getting better compared to what it was in the Second Republic when widespread irregularities forced the military to topple elected civilian leaders.

The former President further made a case for credible elections in Africa stressing that tensions arising from poorly conducted elections and other leadership issues were at the heart of most crises on the continent. He noted:

“Elections must be credible. They must not just be free and fair but must be seen to be transparent and credible. That way peace will reign and sustainable development can take place.”