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Insurgency in Northeast claims 37, 000 lives, displaces 2.2 million people, says UN

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***FG reiterates commitment to providing Humanitarian support

The conflict occasioned by the Bokoharam insurgency in the North East which is in its 12th year has claimed the lives of over 37,000 people, with 2.2million people displaced, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon, has said.
He spoke at the opening of the maiden United Nations humanitarian retreat organised to bring lasting peace to the NorthEast at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
He said, “At the peak of the crisis, over 2.2 million people were displaced in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States and another 303,963 Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“The situation is also very dynamic and 1.9 million people remain internally displaced in the worst affected States and an estimated 1.6 million people that have returned to relatively safe areas

“We are currently facing unprecedented challenges with increasing levels of violence, not just in the north-east but also elsewhere in Nigeria.
“We are also facing, as a result of this, a shrinking humanitarian space, a real threat to humanitarian staff, facilities and operations.
“We are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, including the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in Nigeria.
“The Covid 19 pandemic will also likely have a profound impact on our funding environment, with available funding either stagnant or reducing in the year and, likely, beyond 2021.
He said at the same time, humanitarian needs are increasing due to continuing violence displacing people, as well as a looming food crisis putting up to 4.4 million people at risk.
“Unless we manage to stave off and prevent this crisis, it could deteriorate to catastrophic levels”.

Kallon congratulated the Borno State Government for the recent options provided to displaced persons on return and sought collaboration with other state governments to find ways to jointly find solutions without putting people at risk.

He indicated that peace remains the only solution to humanitarian problems in the North East and called for the prioritization of crisis prevention through dialogue.

The Federal Government on its part reiterated its commitment to providing the needed humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable across the country as the world recovers from the COVID-19 effect.

This Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq made this known at the two-day Humanitarian Country Team Retreat seeking lasting solutions to the crises in the North East ends on Friday in Abuja.

The Minister in her address at the event thanked the Humanitarian Country Team under the leadership of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon for being a worthy and reliable partner at the forefront of supporting the government in providing the needed assistance to the vulnerable across Nigeria.

Umar Farouq also reeled out government’s medium and long term plans to tackle its humanitarian needs.

“The Government is scaling up efforts to provide durable solutions for the return, reintegration and resettlement of affected communities”.

According to her, the launch of the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan by the ministry and the UN Office for the Coordination of Affairs (UNOCHA) will go a long way in addressing those in need.

“As part of the commitment of the Federal Government to coherently coordinate humanitarian assistance in the country, it has developed a National Humanitarian Development Peace Framework (NHDPF) through the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee (NHCC).”
This framework she said seeks to ensure peace, stability and resilience in Nigeria, by promoting home-grown approaches to proactively address critical humanitarian and development challenges.

She observed that to successfully address the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria, collaboration is needed from all relevant stakeholders, continuous interaction and cooperation between the Humanitarian Country Team, the Federal Government, Security Agencies and other relevant actors.

This she said will enhance sustainable peace and simultaneously provide development opportunities especially in conflict affected areas in the country.

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ActionAid trains, empowers 750 youths with N38m in Nasarawa

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From Abel Daniel, Lafia

As parts of efforts to curtail youths restfulness, unemployment, ActionAid has trained and empowered 750 youths with skills and start up kits handed to the trainees.

Speaking at the Presentation of the items to the beneficiaries in Lafia on Friday, the country Director Mrs. Ene Obi said that two years ago ActionAid flagged off the “System and Structure Strengthening Approach against Radicalization to Violent Extremism (SARVE II) Project in Nasarawa State.

She stated that ActionAid did promised to support vocational skills training for 750 youths and thereafter provide starter packs for them to start up their businesses.

“Today, that promise is being fulfilled as ActionAid Nigeria together with her Nasarawa partners, Global Peace Development and Beacon Youth Initiative, under the supervision of the Nasarawa state government will be handing over 6 vocational skills equipment worth N38,000,000 (105,555.555 USD) to 750 youths in Nasarawa State”, she stated.

According the country director, the beneficiaries were trained across 6 vocational skills namely: tailoring, hairdressing, shoe and bag making, ICT, phone repairs and Carpentry from 12 communities in 6 Local Government Areas which are Obi, Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon, Nasarawa, Toto and Lafia.

She stated further that while young women and men seek opportunities to invest their potentials, they are often negatively affected by poverty, marginalization, unemployment, and under-employment, and often find themselves lacking the necessary literacy competencies, capabilities, and skills to overcome these issues.

She noted that if care is not taken young people can become vulnerable target of recruitment by violent extremist groups who exploit their frustrations and vulnerability.

She however warned that youths in the state stand the risk of being vulnerable with Nasarawa State’s 29.83% unemployment rate and 31.06% underemployment rate according to the Quarter 4 of 2020 report of Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“Given this, ActionAid Nigeria, and her partners with funding from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, (GCERF) took steps in reducing the vulnerability of these youth, through the provision of vocational skills training to boost their income generation and making them entrepreneurs as a panacea in the prevention of violent extremism in Nasarawa State”.

“Some of the results achieved through the SARVE II project include 1,614 persons (youth-600 young men, 505 young women: 509 adult women) reached, with useful life skills to keep them engaged and away from the influence of extremist groups”.

“The capacities of 30 police officers were built to respond to rising issues of violent extremism through the crucial Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) while working closely with community policing structures that already exist.
“In the same vein, 6 Local Government Conflict Management Alliance (LOCMA) structures were established in 6 LGAs in Nasarawa State to prevent conflicts from the communities and promote peace in general.”

She assured that ActionAid remained dedicated to the fight against poverty with its vision of ‘A world, without poverty and injustice, in which every person enjoys his or her right to life with dignity.

The country director congratulated the beneficiaries and urged them to utilize the items presently to improve their economic and Carriers.
In his remarks, governor Abdullahi Sule who was represented by the commissioner of youth and sport, Usman Bala commended ActionAid for choosing Nasarawa state and for investing hugely on the youths.

Sule urged the beneficiaries to take advantage of the rare privilege of being part of those selected as he urged them to use the skills as well as the start up kits to establish and improve their living.

He however cautioned youths in the state to remained focused and shun thuggery and all forms of criminality

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They call me demolisher for not sharing money, expect more from my successor’

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Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has pre-empted that his successor would be deadlier in demolishing houses in the State to give facelift to urban development.
Reacting to some residents of the state who were allegedly referred to him as a demolisher he said they should not celebrate that demolition will end with his tenure as he assured that the next governor would do more for the development of the state.

El-Rufai spoke on Friday on a radio programme in the state capital.

According to him, some residents who understand their motives, now appreciate the urban development being executed across the state by his administration.
According to him his critics are attacking him for not sharing money to them, stressing that developing the state was worth more than sharing of money.

“When we started working on school construction they said we are not providing roads now we are working on roads they said we are not empowering people.

“If sharing money at night is what they mean by empowering people, they should keep insulting us.

“The masses who we are working for appreciate what we are doing for them.

“You know the election is approaching and they see me as a demolisher “Mai rusau” so they think that maybe the next person that will come after me will not demolish but he will demolish more than I do, God willing,” he said.

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Humanitarian minister canvasses for adequate funding for States’ sexual Assault referral centers

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The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq has asked the Federal Government to increase funding to strengthen the various State Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC)in the country.
The special adviser to the Minister on media Nneka Ikem Anibeze in a statement in Abuja on Thursday said the Minister made the call during a Virtual Economic Council Meeting chaired by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo,

Presenting the National Guide For the Establishment Of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, the Minister noted that the weak commitment of State governments to strengthening the multi sectoral inter-agency collaboration has made it difficult for the SARC centres to meet the ever growing demand from victims.

To this end, she said the Federal Government should provide robust funding for the 31 SARC centres in 17 states across Nigeria responsible for providing free medical assistance, forensic medical examination counselling and justice support services to survivors of sexual violence to be at their optimum best in service delivery.

“A recent survey of some of the SARCs portrayed a common challenge which is a weak commitment from State governments to strengthen the multi-sectoral inter-agency collaboration mechanisms that will sustain the delivery of SARC services to the public.
“What this means is that the State-led SARCs lack the requisite funding needed to ensure optimal service delivery.
 
“The need to establish and commit to adequately funding Sexual Assault Referral Centres is further justified by the low conviction rates of rape and sexual assault cases.

“According to available data, the centres have provided assistance to over 17,000 victims of sexual assault with 73% of the victims under 18 years of age.”

Farouq noted with sadnesd that only 11 out of 3000 cases have been prosecuted in six states, while 107 were fatal, 742 cases were still open and 188 cases were closed.
“A well funded SARCs will help increase conviction rates through the provision of forensic evidence to support prosecution in court”.

With 20 states including the FCT adopting the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 and 6 states awaiting Executive assent, Umar Farouq urged other states to see the issue of gender based violence as a serious pandemic that should be tackled.

In his response, the Chairman of the National Economic Council and Vice President Prof. Osibanjo also commended efforts being made by Minister Umar Farouq to fight violence against women as he added his voice to the ‘name and shame’ penalty for offenders.

In the same vein, the Governor of Ogun state, Prince Dapo Abiodun lauded the Minister for her commitment to the cause and the fight against Sexual related offenses against women and girls as he called on other states yet to set up Sexual Assault Referral Centres to do so.

The Minister of Environment . Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar described rape as traumatic for the victims as he advocated for stringent punishment for sex offenders.
“Except the appropriate penalty is meted out to sex offenders, they will continue to be on the prowl” he said.

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