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Protests In Nigeria, Others Due To COVID-19, Says UN

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The United Nations (UN) has identified the socio-economic impact of Coronavirus pandemic as the main factor responsible for the social unrest being witnessed in some countries across the world, including Nigeria.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Hajiya Amina Mohammed, stated this when she addressed State House correspondents at the end of her official engagements at the State House, Abuja, on Monday.

Mohammed had on Monday met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.

She later joined Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to inaugurate the UN Plus Offer, a programme aimed at supporting Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan over the next two years.

Mohammed, however, commended the Buhari administration over the way and manner it handled the protests occasioned by the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While reacting to a question on UN response to #ENDSARS protests in Nigeria, the deputy secretary-general said:

“I have to say that there are a lot of protests around this world that has been exacerbated by COVID because, COVID has left people out of work, left people hopeless because of the socio-economic impact.

“And in many of those protests, we have not seen governments turn around in response as quickly as this government did.

“So, the UN response to this is that, we must make sure that what happened in these protests is…… we are able to address those issues, those gaps and begin the reform; in fact I will say the transformations that are needed to address many of these outstanding issues and for that we need an engaged youths, we need to engaged government.

“I think what has been put in place are those building blocs and the support of the UN has been asked, to make sure that those convenience can happen.

“And that we can build back trust and have confidence building measures in order to get to where we need to, where the social contract between government and the people is firm and trustworthy and is working for the benefits of the Nigerian people.’’

Mohammed reiterated the commitment of the UN to offer more support for Nigeria and other developing countries so as to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to her, it has become necessary to offer more support, so as to enable such countries get back on track, after the emergence of the pandemic.

She said: “It is a solidarity visit, first to the government and the people that we have to serve and accompany on various missions whether they are development, humanitarian, or political in the various offices that the UN has.

“It is also one of solidarity to UN Staff around the world that have remained on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is of course an unprecedented health crisis but unfortunately the side effects of some of the issues we had to do to suppress the transmission of COVID had to do with the socio-economic impact.

“So many, if not all developing countries are dealing with the socio-economic impacts of this virus.’’

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Private Sector Key To Realising Sustainability Agenda In Africa – UN

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The United Nation Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed is asking African governments to leverage capital, technology, and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent.

She made this call on Thursday during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health, and gender parity in Africa.

Mohammed, in her remarks, emphasised that targeted investments from Africa’s indigenous businesses are required to catalyse inclusive growth in the continent amid COVID-19 linked economic shocks.

“The private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic,” said Mohamed.

More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors, and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed “Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities”.

The summit that was organised by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with local private sector networks in Africa, discussed market-led interventions that can revitalise the sustainability agenda in the continent.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said that Africa requires private sector investments to address chronic underdevelopment, inequality, youth unemployment, and the public health crisis created by COVID-19.

“The business sector should be on the frontline of efforts to re-energise African economies and enhance their resilience to the pandemic by tapping into innovations,” said Mohammed.

She said that robust policies should be enacted to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tackle Africa’s gaping youth unemployment.

Hanna Tetteh, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to the AU said that businesses should embrace sustainability principles across their key operations in order to strengthen the response to the climate crisis, pandemics, and civil disruptions in Africa.

“We should utilise the energy, innovation, and creativity of African entrepreneurs to boost recovery from the pandemic, create decent jobs for the youth and strengthen cohesion,” said Tetteh.

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact, on her part pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programmes that transform local communities.

“African businesses have been working hand in hand with governments to help defeat the pandemic by providing communities with sanitizers, clean water, and protective gear,” said Ojiambo.

“These businesses are providing local solutions to the challenge of poverty, hunger, lack of clean water, and disease.

“Those actions have ensured the continent is closer to realising the UN 2030 goals and Agenda 2063,” she added.

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UK Sends Troops To Mali On Peacekeeping

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent the first of 300 British troops to Mali to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and bolster the organisation’s peacekeeping in the West African country.

The first of the British troops have already arrived in Mali, with the rest due to follow within a week.

The UK’s defence ministry says the force will join 14,000 peacekeepers from 50 nations, to protect Mali’s population from growing Islamist violence.

The British troops will provide MINUSMA with a dedicated long-range ground reconnaissance capability that has been lacking since soldiers from the Dutch 11 Air Mobile Brigade completed their last patrol in April 2019.

Most of the British troops are drawn from the Light Dragoons and Anglian Regiments who will be supported by a detachment from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit.

More than 5,000 French troops have underpinned the operation, but President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to reduce his forces.

The mission to the Sahel region of Africa has been described as the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping deployment.

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Ethiopia, UN Strike Deal for Unimpeded Humanitarian Access To Tigray

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The United Nation on Friday announced that an agreement has been reached with the Ethiopian Government to allow “unimpeded, sustained and secure access” for humanitarian supplies to reach those in need across areas now under its control in Tigray.

The UN Headquarters in New York confirmed the details of the deal through its spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Dujarric said that the safe passage of aid supplies and staff also extends to the Ethiopian regions of Amhara and Afar, bordering Tigray, where fighting between federal and regional forces, has impacted around six million people during the past month.

A UN statement said until now, no supplies have been allowed into the conflict zone, which has displaced thousands, many across the border into Sudan.

UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) spokesperson based in Nairobi, Saviano Abreu, said earlier that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin on Wednesday.

He added that the UN was committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” and ensuring that aid was distributed “strictly based on needs”.

Dujarric said that all aid distribution would be carried out “in compliance with the globally-agreed principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This includes working to ensure that people impacted by the conflict are assisted without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs”.

Many Ethiopians have also been internally displaced from Tigray, seeking refuge in Afar and Amhara, and the UN needs assessment would aim to reach those affected by the conflict, added Mr. Dujarric.

On Monday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) appealed to Ethiopia for urgent access to assist around 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray camps, who it was estimated had essentially run out of food.

Spokesperson in Geneva, Babar Baloch, said concerns were growing “by the hour, with hunger and malnutrition a real danger”.

Communications to the Tigray region continue to be severed, along with transportation routes, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has reportedly rejected dialogue with Tigray’s regional leaders who are said to be on the run, after the regional capital was entered by federal forces last weekend.

The UN estimates that some two million are now in need of assistance in and around Tigray and some one million have been displaced by the fighting, including more than 45,000 who have fled across the border into Sudan.

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