Boko Haram: Norway pledges N60 billion humanitarian support for Nigeria

Nigerian victims of Boko Haram insurgency will benefit about NOK1.6 billion (N60 billion) in aid from Norway within the next three years, that country’s authorities announced Friday.

About N27 billion of the amount will be disbursed this year alone, according to a statement by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borge Brende.

“The Government has proposed a three-year commitment to provide up to NOK1.6 billion in humanitarian and development aid for the period 2017-2019,” Mr. Brende said.

The diplomat’s comments came when he spoke at the ongoing international donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in Oslo, the Norwegian capital.

Mr. Brende decried the humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged Northeast, where an estimated 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since 2009.

‘We urgently need to put an end to this crisis. It is affecting an area with a population of 26 million, and is threatening the whole region.

“Unless we make a concerted effort now, the situation will get even worse, with inevitable consequences,” Mr. Brende said.

Mr. Brende further stated that NOK150 million (about N5.6 billion) out of Norway’s NOK729 million (about N27.5 billion) humanitarian intervention budget for 2017 will go into providing food for the displaced Boko Haram victims.

“This humanitarian funding will be channelled through the UN, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and various Norwegian NGOs in north-eastern Nigeria and the other countries around Lake Chad – Niger, Cameroon and Chad,” Mr. Brende said.

Mr. Brende said Norway will provide other developmental supports for long-term survival of the people of the north-east, especially in the areas of basic infrastructure, health and education.

He said the UN will track all the donations members of the international community have pledged towards the Northeast humanitarian efforts, adding that the world body will ensure transparency and accountability for all the funds received.

The conference was arranged together with Nigeria, Germany and the UN. Around 170 people from 40 countries, UN and civil society organisations took part.


Source: Premium Times

Norway Donates N3.6bn To Victims Of Boko Haram

Norway has donated $11.5m approximately N3.6bn to improve basic education, support girls and women who have been victims of sexual violence by Boko Haram in conflict-affected northeast states.

The United Nation’s Children Fund Chief of Communication, Ms Doune Porter, in a statement on Saturday said that the benefiting states are; Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe.

She said that the fund was part of the Safe Schools Initiative in the northern Nigeria.

She said that in 2013, Norway was a pioneer member of the Safe Schools Initiative Committee established in response to Boko Haram attacks on schools in the areas.

Porter said that UNICEF, however, noted that there was an urgent need to provide a safe learning environment for children in northeast.

She said that through the support of UNICEF about 100,000 children were currently accessing education through Temporary Learning Spaces and schools in northeast Nigeria.

“This fund would further boost access to education for an additional half a million boys and girls in internally displaced persons’ camps, host communities and areas of Borno that have become accessible to humanitarian assistance.’’

Porter quoted Jens-Petter Kjemprud, Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria in the statement as saying that: “We believe in the importance of doing what we can to break the cycle of violence in northeast Nigeria.

“This funding will provide more children complete basic education in a good learning environment and will provide much-needed counselling for girls who have suffered unimaginable trauma in the hands of Boko Haram,” Kjemprud said.

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Norway Announces It Will Ban Islamic Veil From Classrooms

The burqa veil is to be banned in schools and universities across Norway following similar measures in other European countries, according to the Norwegian education minister.

The country’s right-wing government confirmed it was considering “national regulations prohibiting the full-face veil in schools and universities.”, a move supported by the opposition Labour Party.

Education minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen confirmed the ban would only apply to the full-face veil and not to other Islamic headscarves including the hijab, chador and niqab.

Norwegian Defense Chief Regrets Illegal Weapon Sales To Paramilitary Forces in Nigeria

Norwegian Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hansen admitted on Thursday that military officials had done a poor job of selling several surplus vessels in 2012 and 2013, and he apologized for that at a parliamentary inquiry. The vessels wound up under the control of paramilitary forces in Nigeria, and a former military employee has been charged with corruption.

Admiral and Defense Chief Haakon Bruun-Hansen apologized at a parliamentary inquiry  on Thursday for the sale of surplus military vessels to Nigerian paramilitary interests. PHOTO: Forsvaret

“The fact that the vessels have landed in Nigeria under Nigerian flag reflects a breakdown in our systems, and I apologize for that,” Bruun-Hansen said during a hearing before the Parliament’s disciplinary committee. He was not defense chief at the time of the sales, but took responsibility for what’s become a military scandal that extended into his tenure. Norwegian regulations prohibit the sales or export of material or services to private buyers who may arm the vessels and offer them for use in areas of conflict, and those regulations were violated.

News bureau NTB reported that Bruun-Hansen admitted that military officials did not carry out a thorough check of the company, CAS Global, that bought six missile torpedo boats (MTBs) and the support vessel KMN Horten three years ago.

This Norwegian frigate, now phased out of active service, was sold to a company that intends to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. PHOTO: Forsvarets mediesenter/Tomas Moss

The vessels were sold after they’d been stripped of weapons, rebuilt and repainted so that they could be classified as civilian vessels. Representatives for CAS Global had also declared that the vessels would sail under British flag and British jurisdiction, and with European crews. Norway’s Foreign Ministry, which is responsible for controlling exports of military material, then cleared the sale. The Horten at one point was reported to be part of a transaction involving anti-piracy efforts off Somalia.

Both the defense and foreign  ministries were under political leadership of the former left-center government at the time, headed by Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who is now secretary general of NATO. Current Foreign Minister Børge Brende, also testifying at Thursday’s hearing, said that much remains unclear about the sale and export of the vessels, and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Brende had notified the state prosecutor(Riksadvokaten) about possible criminal violations.

Dagbladet’s revelations
The so-called “Nigerian boats” scandal emerged after a series of reports in newspaperDagbladet, and several members of the parliamentary committee noted on Thursday that a simple Internet search would have revealed that CAS Global only had a postbox address. Defense department officials nonetheless received the Nigerians who represented CAS Global and wanted to inspect the vessels that were up for sale.

“Does this mean that anybody can buy these boats, as long as they sign a declaration?” asked Erik Skutle, a Member of Parliament for the Conservatives.  “Even terrorists? How on earth could this happen?”

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Bruun-Hansen and the head of the defense department’s logistics organization (FLO), Petter Jansen, tried to answer the many questions that arose after Dagbladet revealed how the Norwegian equipment landed in the hands of owners described as Nigerian warlords. Another former Norwegian Coast Guard vessel, theKV Titran, was also sold through a brokerage company in a transaction that both Jansen and Bruun-Hansen also admitted did not comply with regulations. It was sold on to a South African weapons trader, Nautic Africa, which in turn sold it to another Nigerian company.

Corruption charges
Norwegian and British police made three arrests in January in connection with the sales. A former FLO employee who was responsible for sales has since been charged with corruption and Jansen, his boss, admitted that his own follow-up of the case had also been deficient. He claimed he since has made many changes in the FLO as a result of the scandal.

Harald Sunde, who served as defense chief when the sales were conducted, also apologized on Thursday and said he was disappointed over all the mistakes made in connection with the vessel sales. He blamed a difficult reorganization of FLO at the time for the breakdown. Now both prosecutors and Norwegian police are investigating and more charges may be filed.

Helge Thorheim, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party, told NTB that he thinks the defense department was under pressure from the Defense Ministry to sell the vessels, to raise money at a time of tight budgets. “But it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of this case,” Thorheim told NRK.

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