Aid Reaches Besieged Syrian Towns Amid Conflict

Aid has been delivered to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Seventy-one lorries reached rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, and government-controlled Foah and Kefraya, in Idlib province, on Sunday.

They brought food, medical supplies and hygiene kits for 60,000 people.

Last week, the UN suspended aid deliveries across Syria for 48 hours after a deadly attack on a convoy.

The US and Russia, which support opposing sides in the country’s five-year civil war, have blamed each other for the incident.

It came as a week-old truce brokered by the two powers collapsed and the government’s bombardment of rebel-held areas of Aleppo resumed.

A monitoring group said dozens of air strikes hit the northern city and its surrounding countryside overnight, killing and wounding a number of people.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 237 people, including 38 children, in Aleppo since last Monday, when the truce ended.

Read More: BBC

World Bank Extends Erosion Projects To 12 States

To further strengthen its operations aimed at controlling gully erosion in Nigeria, the World Bank, through its Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Project (NEWMAP), has extended its services to 12 states.

The states are Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Oyo and Sokoto states.

A statement signed by an official of the Aries Concept Nigeria Limited, a communication consulting firm for the bank, Bankole Ebisemiju, said the states will benefit from funds made available to NEWMAP by the Federal and State Governments, international and donor agencies for the eight -year task.

In the statement, the Task Team leader of the bank, Dr. Amos Abu, was quoted as saying that the project will be financed through a Strategic Investment Loan (SIL), of $508.59 million, $500 million received from the International Development Association (IDA).

Other sources of funding include, a concessional Loan from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), Trust Fund and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) grants of $8,59 million and counterpart contribution from the Federal Government and participating states to the tune of $150 million.

The Federal Government, he said contributed 60 per cent, while the states will gives 40 per cent in total counterpart sum.

It stated: “Twelve additional states have recently become partners with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in combating environmental and land degradation. The states include; Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Borno Delta, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, and Kogi. Others are ?Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau and Sokoto.

“It should be recalled that this multisector and multi-scale project, with Innovative new approach to preventing and reversing land degradation, initially commenced with gully erosion sites that threaten infrastructure and livelihoods in seven states: Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo Enugu and Imo, referred to as first mover states.

“Presently, its activities have scaled out to the aforementioned 12 states, now making a total of 19.”

While briefing key officials of the seven states where the Bank’s Erosion and ?Watershed Intervention Programme is currently being executed, ?Dr Abu noted , that the Project was in response to the challenges and the emerging Land degradation and environmental insecurity facing the first mover states.

Taylor Swift To Donate $1million To Louisiana Flood Relief After Historic Flooding

Due to torrential rains, Louisiana has suffered some of its worst flooding in years which has left 11 people dead and damaged 40000 homes. Taylor Swift has announced she will be donating $1million to help with disaster relief efforts….

‘We began The 1989 World Tour in Louisiana, and the wonderful fans there made us feel completely at home. The fact that so many people in Louisiana have been forced out of their own homes this week is heartbreaking,’ the 26-year-old said in a statement.

‘I encourage those who can to help out and send your love and prayers their way during this devastating time,’ Swift said.

It’s not the first time Taylor Swift has opened up her purse to those in dire need.
In 2014 she donated $50,000 to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to help fund therapy tools for children suffering from cancer.

In 2015 she gave $50,000 to a young fan battling leukemia as well as another $50,000 to her backup dancer’s baby nephew who is battling cancer.

US Pledges $37M Aid For Victims Of Boko Haram

The United States on Wednesday pledged $37 million in aid for victims of Boko Haram, government officials said, as fears of a famine mounted in the ravaged Lake Chad region.

Despite Boko Haram losing swathes of territory in the northeast as a result of a renewed military offensive, millions are still going hungry after years of attacks disrupted farming and supplies.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said on July 1 that 250,000 children under five in Borno state were at risk from severe acute malnutrition this year and 50,000 could die if nothing was done.

The US government will provide “more than $37 million in additional humanitarian assistance” the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in Abuja said. “Approximately five million people need emergency food assistance.”

The money for food would be directed to communities in the Diffa region of Niger and is part of a coordinated effort to get more food into the area.

Returning this week from a trip to Chad, Nigeria, and Cameroon, the regional director of the World Food Programme, Abdou Dieng, told AFP that “the crisis of Boko Haram is just beginning.”

“There are many places where humanitarian aid can’t reach because of insecurity,” Dieng said, adding that Boko Haram attacked a UN convoy just last week. “But we are even more determined to stay.”

Dieng estimated that around $600 million is needed to address the crisis but that so far “less than a third of that money has been received”.

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Hollywood Star Launches Scholarship for Terrorized Nigerian Girls

Oprah Winfrey is also the scholarship’s major seed funder, which Oyelowo hopes is a step towards combatting cultural and gender inequality.

David Oyelowo (Selma, Queen of Katwe) is paving a way for three Nigerian girls to continue their education with the announcement of a scholarship in his name starting this year. The David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship stems from the actor’s close partnership with the GEANCO Foundation, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization committed to transforming health and education in Africa

The three scholarships will cover full tuition for one year (including room and board and summer tutoring) for three females who have been exposed to terrorism and gender inequality to attend Nigeria’s Anglican Girls Grammar School beginning in September. It’s the same school Oprah Winfrey generously donated $100,000 to in Oyelowo’s honor in 2015 through GEANCO to provide the school with educational supplies, a brand-new computer lab and a water filtration system, among other additional support.

“The new scholarship will directly impact young girls lives who have been devastatingly impacted by acts of terror and gender inequality, and so hopefully it’s a place to put that frustration instead of just becoming more and more numb to the terrible things we’re seeing in the world at the moment,” Oyelowo told The Hollywood Reporter.

Winfrey is the scholarship’s major seed funder. Oyelowo and his wife, Jessica, have personally donated to the scholarship along with Participant Media, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, Janus Funds and several other donors.

For GEANCO co-founder and chief operating officer Afam Onyema, the scholarship is just the beginning of providing support to women who have been rescued from being kidnapped and terrorized by the acts of Boko Haram as well as those marginalized throughout Nigeria. The organization, which Onyema founded with his father in 2005, also has received support from Forest Whitaker, Kimora Lee Simmons and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who supports a separate school in Nigeria with the organization.

“We’ve done medical work for over a decade,” said Onyema. “Medical missions, knee replacements, anemia screenings, donations to hospitals — but we just had the sense that as these precious girls were being brutalized, kidnapped and terrorized that we need to do something. It’s such a complex, dangerous problem.”

Oyelowo expressed that being of Nigerian descent, along with raising a 4-year-old daughter of his own (as well as three sons), has shaped his perspective in wanting to help provide opportunities for her and all girls. His daughter also inspired him to join Lupita Nyongo in Queen of Katwe, a film which spotlights the game of chess and boasts a significant message for young women.

Said the actor: “Queen of Katwe, I did that as a love letter to my daughter, because in that I play a coach to an 11-year-old girl who sells corn on the streets of Kampala [Uganda] who would never otherwise go on to be a chess champion if she didn’t have mentoring and if she didn’t have someone somewhere who believed in her and took the time to mentor her towards her dream. That’s such a beautiful true story to me. We all need those.”

Oyelowo and Onyema’s launch of the scholarship goes far beyond simply adding Oyelowo’s star-powered name to the donation, but is a step towards fulfilling big dreams, including world-class medical facilities, more scholarships and one day the end of cultural and gender equality in Nigeria. Oyelowo says it starts with staying focused — words of wisdom he learned from his mentor and friend Winfrey, who he says helped him to realize his potential in being part of director Ava Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated Selma.

Selma simply would not have happened if, when we had done The Butler together, she [Winfrey] didn’t pull me aside and just spoke to me in very generous terms about what she felt I had by way of a gift and how she wanted to help me realize its full potential,” said Oyelowo. “I called her up to be a producer on Selma — she immediately said yes, and that’s partly how that film got made.”

“Advocacy is such a powerful thing,” he added. “I’ve been a beneficiary of it. In that story, Queen of Katwe, you see it demonstrated beautifully and that’s what I try to do with my daughter and my sons in encouraging them to be their best selves every day, and that is exactly why this scholarship is something so dear to my heart and why we’re doing that as well.”

Source: THR

NYSC Supports Physically Challenged Ex-corps Members With N13.5m

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has supported nine ex-corps members who sustained various injuries during the mandatory one-year service period with N1.5 million each.
The Director-General of the NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, said this in a statement signed by the Director of Press, Mrs Bose Aderibigbe, in Abuja.
The statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that the money was donated by Heritage Bank in fulfilment of its pledge to the NYSC Hope Alive Programme (NYSC-HAP).
It said that the gesture made by the financial institution was to enable the ex-corps members actualise their dreams and not be limited by their disabilities.
It also explained that it was also to reassure prospective and serving corps members that the nation would not abandon them in case of any accident leading to permanent disability during the service year.
According to the statement, the bank made the pledge during the flag off of the programme at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 NYSC President’s Honours Award Ceremony held in March 2015.
The statement said the beneficiaries had expressed joy at the development, adding that it not only restored their hope but also brought them succour.
It further quoted the director-general as saying “the fulfilment of the bank’s promise has rekindled the Scheme’s hope in the support of corporate organisations and public spirited individuals for the NYSC’’.
The statement said Olawumi called on well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and philanthropists to continue to assist the NYSC achieve its vision of a better Nigeria through the youths.
It said that the programme was introduced by the management of the Scheme in order to provide support to corps members who sustained various degrees of injury during the service period.
It said that under the programme the Scheme, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, would provide counselling for those with emotional or psychological trauma.
The statement also assured that medical rehabilitation would also be provided to those with injuries and employment for those who were employable.
It added that requisite skill training and start-up capital would be provided to those who could not be engaged in paid jobs

Credit: Nan

G7 Leaders Assure Pres. Buhari Of Their Support

The G7 group of industrialized nations has resolved to support the new Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari.

This followed the group’s acknowledgment of the way and manner of his emergence and the tremendous challenges faced by the government he leads, not of his making, especially in its efforts to combat the Boko Haram.

A statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President said that “at the end of the presentation he made on Monday, the G7 leaders said to him that they recognized the President’s massive amount of confidence and expectations behind his government.

They acknowledged him as having emerged from an election adjudged to be the freest in the country’s electoral history, but regretted the severe handicaps his new government has to face from the outset.

“They told President Buhari that they took cognizance of the fact of the several handicaps, including the lack of resources, leaving him with a government over-stretched in capacity, itself riddled with mismanagement. They noted that the country’s army lacked training and equipment with little or no will to engage.

“In recognition of the fact that the security threat of the Boko Haram had gone beyond Nigeria, equally affecting other countries in the region, the G7 conceded that no one country can tackle it alone.

“They expressed warm sentiments towards the Nigerian leader and praised him for reaching out to the country’s neighbours and the group of industrialized nations within a week of his takeover of government.

“In view of the seriousness he has shown in tacking this problem, the group pledged that they would “engage, cooperate and collaborate” with President Buhari’s government in tackling the serious problems that Nigeria faces.

“They left it to President Buhari to come up with the specifics on his requirements, assuring that they would study the requirements either individually or collectively and offer help. They asked to know the nature and the scale of the problems in order to know the nature and the scale of the assistance they will provide. Suffice it to say that they assured President Buhari that ‘Nigeria will find a partner in the G7.’”

President Buhari, who had the privilege of being the first to address the G7 among the invited presidents and prime ministers was warmly received at the summit. He returned to Nigeria in the early hours of Tuesday, 9 June.

President Buhari Seeks Europe, U.S. Support For Nigeria’s Development

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will seek the support of Europe, America and Nigeria’s neighbours in tackling the unemployment and security problems confronting the country.

Buhari gave the indication on Friday in his remarks at the inauguration Gala Night held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa.

He said that his administration would focus on agriculture and mining to engage the unemployed youths who form more than 60 per cent of the population.

“I ask Nigerians to please bear with us; a lot of damage has been done,’’ he said.

He said that he had lost elections in the past three times and gone to the tribunal with the help of Nigerians, but that he was happy that the will of Nigerians made his victory possible this time around.

He said that Nigeria, being a populous country, if things went wrong in the country, they would go wrong in Africa because the continent could not manage any refugee crisis from Nigeria.

He said that when he consulted the foreign partners and confronted them with the refugee scenario, it pricked their consciences and they assisted with technology to enable a successful vote count in the last elections.

Buhari insisted that previous election results were written in private homes and announced on the radio and that getting the courts to reverse them was difficult.

He said that Nigeria’s friends in Europe and U.S. had spoken to him personally and had identified security as the major challenge facing the country.

“Nigeria has to be well secured and efficiently managed; this is what the APC is all about.

“This was why the legacy parties made the sacrifice of jettisoning their personal ambitions, tried to come together and took the bull by the horn and therefore brought it down and slaughtered it literally.’’

He said the party in power had realised its problems and made the sacrifice.

Buhari said: “Nigerians pray a lot; we need to even pray the more for luck so that expectations our people have, especially the youths would be met.”

He said the unemployment level was the “keg of gunpowder we are sitting on’’ and the administration had resolved to secure Nigeria as soon as possible.

He thanked Nigeria’s neighbours for helping the country to fight insurgency.

He added that his administration would articulate the nation’s requirements after studying the handover notes from the past administration then consult the immediate neighbours, Europe and U.S. for possible assistance.

In his remark, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the inauguration of Buhari as historic for the nation and indeed Africa.

He said the transition from one party to another was a big achievement for the country.

“Democracy is the winner and Nigeria is the winner.

“I congratulate all those who made the election possible. I also congratulate former president Goodluck Jonathan for deepening democracy,’’ he said.

He said the path of honour Jonathan took would not be forgotten and added that the new administration would need time to take stock and take decisions that would push the nation forward.

He urged the new president to recognise the diversity of the country and accommodate all since the nation’s diversity remained its strength.

APC chieftain, Sen. Bola Tinubu, said that a new era had dawned in Nigeria.

He said that a commitment to build a new Nigeria had been consecrated adding that“ Buhari is principled, passionate and determined to develop the country.’’

He said the time was ripe for Nigeria to maintain its lead in Africa and the African renaissance must begin with the new President.

“The Challenge is yours. We that are looking up to you will continue to do so with great commitment and perseverance.

`Nigeria must lead,’’ Tinubu added. (NAN)

UN Urges More Help in Fight Against Boko Haram

The UN special representative for Central Africa has warned of the spread of the atrocities by Takfiri Boko Haram militants to beyond Nigeria, calling for increased international support for the fight against the group.

“Deadly attacks by Boko Haram have gone beyond Nigeria’s borders and now constitute a threat for neighboring countries,” Abdoulaye Bathily said in the Gabon capital Libreville on Thursday, adding, “Cameroon is one of the main victims.”

The UN official further noted that he was making “an appeal to the international community to mobilize more in support of states’ efforts in the battle against this terrorist group, whose atrocities have caused a worrying stream of refugees in neighboring countries.”

He also said that over 17,000 Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram violence took refuge at a camp in Minawao, in northern Cameroon, between June and October this year.

Bathily also warned of a looming humanitarian disaster if nothing is done urgently to stop Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, local officials in the Nigerian state of Adamawa said government forces with the assistance of local groups managed to take back the northeastern town of Mubi from the Takfiri Boko Haram militants.

Credit: Press TV