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.”

Obasanjo Secures United Nations Appointment

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been appointed into the United Nations (UN) High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation along with 17 other current and former global leaders.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez in a statement announced the establishment of the board, which he explained would advise him on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world.

Gutierrez said the Board was established as part of the “surge in diplomacy for peace” which he has consistently advocated.

In the announcement of the appointments, UN described the former Nigerian President as one of the most distinguished elder statesmen of Africa.

The statement reads, “He served as President of the Republic of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, and before that as the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces from 1976 to 1979. Over his long career, Mr. Obasanjo has been involved in numerous international mediation efforts, including in Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

“In 2008 he was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Great Lakes region.”

Also appointed into the board are President Michelle Bachelet (Chile) who is serving her second non-consecutive term as president; Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka); a 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee (Liberia); Jean-Marie Guéhenno (France), former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen (Finland); David Harland (New Zealand), Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore), and Nasser Judeh (Jordan).

Others are Ramtane Lamamra (Algeria), Graça Machel (Mozambique), Asha-Rose Migiro (Tanzania), Raden Mohammad and Marty Muliana Natalegawa (Indonesia), Roza Otunbayeva (Kyrgyzstan), Michèle Pierre-Louis (Haiti), José Manuel Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste), Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala) and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (United Kingdom).

3 Million People Stateless Worldwide – UN

The United Nations (UN) says three million people worldwide are stateless, most of them minorities, a status that deprives them of an identity, rights, and often jobs.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a report on Friday said Muslim Rohingyas in Buddhist-majority Myanmar form the world’s biggest stateless minority, with some 600,000 having fled violence and repression since late August and taken refuge in Bangladesh.

In the report,”This is Our Home“– Stateless Minorities and their Search for Citizenship”, the UNHCR called on governments to end the discriminatory practice by 2024.

“If you live in this world without a nationality, you are without an identity, you are without documentation, without the rights and entitlements that we take for granted … having a job, having education, knowing that your child belongs somewhere,” Carol Batchelor, director of UNHCR’s division of international protection, told a news conference.

UNHCR said governments should give nationality to people born on their territory if they would otherwise be stateless, and facilitate naturalization for a long time stateless residents.

The UNHCR said other stateless groups, many of whom have lived for generations in their homelands, include many Syrian Kurds, the Karana of Madagascar, Roma in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the Pemba of Kenya. “We can concretely say there are over 3 million identified stateless persons, but that would certainly not be the scope in totality,” Batchelor said.

“We need to ensure that there is not a deliberate, arbitrary exclusion or deprivation of nationality.” Asked whether Rohingya fell into the category of those deliberately excluded and deprived of nationality, Batchelor said:

“We can only look at the result … “Myanmar has a nationality law. It outlines categories of persons that are considered to be citizens of Myanmar. The Rohingya are not on that list.”

The office said some 30,000 stateless people in Thailand have acquired nationality since 2012 and the Makonde, a community of 4,000, became Kenya’s 43rd officially recognized tribe in 2016.

“We are seeing reductions in Thailand, in central Asia, in Russia, in Western Africa.

“The numbers are not nearly as substantial as they would need to be for us to end statelessness by 2024,” said Melanie Khanna, head of UNHCR’s statelessness section.

United Nations Backs New Sanctions On North Korea

The UN Security Council came to a unanimous decision to impose new sanctions on North Korea after Washington toned down its original proposals to secure backing from China and Russia banning textile exports and restricting shipments of oil products to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the tough new measures were a message to Pyongyang that “the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” but she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

“We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no-return,” Haley told the council, adding: “If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs.”

During tough negotiations, the United States dropped initial demands for a full oil embargo and a freeze on the foreign assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The resolution instead bans trade in textiles, cuts off natural gas shipments to North Korea, places a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and caps crude oil shipments at current levels.

It bars countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean laborers sent abroad — there are some 93,000, providing Kim’s regime with a source of revenue to develop its missile and nuclear programs, according to a US official familiar with the negotiations.

Under the measure, countries are authorized to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned North Korean cargo but must first seek the consent of the flag-state.

Joint ventures will be banned and the names of senior North Korean official and three entities were added to a UN sanctions blacklist that provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban.

 

Nuclear Weapons: UN Envoy Wants Total Ban

Prof. Tijjani Bande, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN said nuclear weapons should be banned because they cause more crises than promoting peace among countries.

Bande told a news conference at the UN that nuclear weapons now create instability globally rather than deterrence, the excuse most nuclear powers gave.

The UN on Friday adopted the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty in a majority vote by 122 countries leading towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, while 60 countries boycotted.

With the adoption of the nuclear treaty, nuclear weapons now joined all other weapons of mass destruction, which have already been prohibited.

Nigeria, together with Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa played a leadership role in bringing forward the UN resolution convening the Diplomatic Conference that negotiated the ground-breaking treaty.

Bande said it was sad that “there are countries that still have nuclear weapons and refuse to give them up”, pointing out that the resources expended on maintaining nuclear weapons could better be channelled to other development projects.

According to him, those regions with nuclear weapons have continued to be unstable, citing India and Pakistan and Israel and its neighbours.

“Pakistan has a very terrible relationship with its neighbour. Literally, India and Pakistan used to be one country, and the instability of the situation is that these are two nuclear neighbours.

“So what advantage in the relationship strategically do they have? Nothing; they are just spending the money on nuclear weapons.

“A lot of people are poor in India, a lot of people are poor in Pakistan, and everyday people are killed in low-level warfare but they are nuclear States,” he said.

According to him, Israel also has a nuclear weapon while Iran is reportedly trying to acquire one in what seems to be a sad reminder of dangerous arms race among countries.

“So the larger question really is: there is something that makes people crazy about wanting to have latest weapons in nuclear but of what use then are they?

“With all the provocations, would Israel use nuclear weapons in its own neighbourhood?

“So these are the questions but when you ask these questions, people say ‘oh, my neighbour has’. He has and he can’t eat them.

“You are trying to have, you can’t eat it, you can’t even use it. So the whole issue then is that there is a sense of competition.

“These are like toys; the ‘big boys’ have them, I must also have them. But we are dealing with human lives, ”
he added.

Bande, however, warned that while countries that possessed nuclear weapons could not even use them deliberately, accidents could happen.

The Nigerian envoy alluded to the recent nuclear weapons concerns over North Korea, saying deterrence via the threat of the use of nuclear weapons had failed.

“In classrooms and politics, we are told they (nuclear weapons) are ‘deterrence’, I do not think that this deterrence has worked; these just are theories.

“If there were no nuclear weapons and no threat felt by North Korea, it’s possible that the regime would not have started its efforts to produce these weapons,” he stated.

122 nation states voted in favour of the adoption of a legally binding instrument – a treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons at the UN conference, while one respectively voted ‘no’ and ‘abstention’.

Netherlands voted against while Singapore abstained as well as all the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, fewer other countries and Japan that was the victim of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The text adopted on Friday represented the successful outcome of the first multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations in 20 years.

State Parties to the Treaty are expected to have the signing ceremonies at the UN headquarters in September, at the sidelines of the High-level UN General Assembly, and subsequently, ratify it.

Bwalya, UNDP Programme Director Assumes Duty

Mr. Samuel Bwalya, the new UN Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, has assumed duty in Abuja, the UN Communication Specialist, Lucky Musonda, said in a statement.

Musonda said that Country Director would work under the delegated authority of the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria.

According to him, Bwalya will assume responsibility and accountability for day-to-day management of operational and programmatic activities of UNDP Nigeria.

Before coming to Nigeria, he said that Bwalya served as Country Director for UNDP in Ethiopia.

He added that “Bwalya started his UN career as an Economic Advisor in UNDP Ethiopia Country Office in 2011 before he was later appointed as Country Director for the same office in June 2013.

He said that prior to joining the UN, Bwalya was Director for corporate planning and research at the Zambia Revenue Authority between 2006 and 2011.

Bwalya holds a PhD Degree in Economics from the University of Rhode Island (USA) and Masters and Bachelor degrees in Economics from Addis Ababa University and The University of Zambia respectively.

“He served in this capacity up until his deployment to Nigeria.

“While in Ethiopia, Bwalya spearheaded and led the formulation and implementation of key transformative and flagship programmes in different areas.”

These areas, he said, include environment and climate change, recovery and resilience building, forest sector development programme, political and economic governance, including election support and support to democratic institutions programmes.

Other areas where Bwalya worked were in poverty reduction and economic growth initiatives including UNDP flagship programmes on agricultural transformation, entrepreneurship and private sector development, industrialisation and agro-industrial parks initiatives, among others.

He added that the new country director led to tax and customs modernisation initiatives in Zambia and anchored delivery of tax policy advice to government on mining tax regimes and reforms.

Musonda said Bwalya also served on the Board of Directors of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holding and chaired its Audit Committee.

He stated that “Bwalya was a lecturer of economics at the University of Zambia between 1998 and 2006.

“His recent works include publications on comparative tax administration systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, forest economics, political economy (lobbying) of budgeting, fiscal strategies for growth and prosperity, and foreign direct investment and technology spillovers in the manufacturing sector.

UN To Acknowledge 2 Nigerian Fallen Peacekeepers

Two fallen peacekeepers from Nigeria, Commodore Christopher Ademu Abu and Sgt. Mayehm Norbert, are among the 117 that would be honoured with the posthumous Dag Hammarskjöld medal.

Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given by the UN to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives while serving in a UN peacekeeping operation.

The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the UN, who died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in September 1961.

The UN, in a statement, said the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, would award the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal posthumously to the 117 fallen heroes at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday.

The Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UN headquarters would observe the 2017 International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 24.

“Two fallen peacekeepers from Nigeria are among those to posthumously receive the Dag Hammarskjöld medal, Commodore Christopher Ademu Abu, who served with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

“And Police Sergeant Mayhem Norbert,  who was deployed with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL),” the statement read.

Nigeria is the 14th largest contributor of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping.

It currently deploys nearly 1,700 uniformed personnel to the UN peace operations in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.

Guterres will lay a wreath to honour all fallen peacekeepers and will preside over a ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal will be awarded posthumously to 117 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations during 2016.