United Nations: Boko Haram recruited nearly 2,000 children in 2016.

In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, data verified by the United Nations and its partners show that nearly 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in 2016 alone.

The children were recruited to fight in a war that has lasted over seven years in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe,  Doune Porter, the spokesperson of the UN body for children, UNICEF, said.

Since 2009, Boko Haram insurgents have waged a war against western education in the region leading to the death of several thousands of people and according to the Kano state government, nearly 100,000 people.

On February 13, Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno state, in what has been the highest casualty figure of the crisis presented by the government, said “the Boko Haram insurgency has led to the deaths of almost 100,000 persons going by the estimates of our community leaders over the years”.

“Two million, one hundred and fourteen thousand (2,114,000) persons have become internally displaced as at December of 2016, with five hundred and thirty seven thousand, eight hundred and fifteen (537,815) in separate camps; 158,201 are at official camps that consists of six centres with two transit camps at Muna and Customs House, both in Maiduguri.”

UNICEF said it has released some of the child soldiers from the hold of armed groups like Boko Haram in several war torn countries including Yemen, Syria and South Sudan.

“At least 65,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups in the past 10 years,” the organisation said as it marks the 10th year anniversary of the Paris commitments to end the use of children in conflict.

“Ten years ago the world made a commitment to the children of war and matched it with action – action that has helped give 65,000 children a new chance for a better life,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director.

“But today’s meeting is not only about looking back at what has been accomplished — but looking forward to the work that remains to be done to support the children of war.”

Exact data on the number of children used and recruited in armed conflict are difficult to confirm because of the unlawful nature of child recruitment.

However, UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 are used in conflicts worldwide.

“The Paris International Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts will look at ways to build on this momentum.

“These include calling for the unconditional release of all children, without exception, and putting an end to child recruitment; increased resources to help reintegrate and educate children who have been released; and urgent action to protect internally displaced children, child refugees and migrants.”


Source: The Cable

United Nations condemns U.S. travel ban

The World Travel Organisation, UNWTO, a United Nations specialised agency for tourism, has condemned the recent travel ban put in place by the United States government.

A statement by UNWTO Media Officer, Gomez Sobrino, which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, said that the travel ban is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel and travel facilitation by the international tourism community.

“The UNWTO expresses its deep concern and strong condemnation over the
recently announced travel ban by the United States of America (USA) to nationals of seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen),” said Mr. Sobrino.

“The travel ban, based on nationality, is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel and travel facilitation promoted by the international tourism community and will hinder the immense benefits
of the tourism sector brings in terms of economic growth and job creation to many countries, including the USA.”

According to the statement, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, said, “Global challenges demand global solutions and the security challenges that we face today should not prompt us to build new walls; on the contrary, isolationism and blind discriminatory actions will not lead to increased security but rather to growing tensions and threats.”

The United States President, Donald Trump, had on Friday signed an executive order prohibiting entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the U.S. for the period.

But Mr. Rifai in his reaction added that the hostile manner the travel ban was imposed will affect the image of the United states, noting that travel demand to the country will decline.

“Besides the direct impact, the image of a country which imposes travel bans in such a hostile way will surely be affected among visitors from all over the world and risk dumping travel demand to the


Source: Premium Times

President Donald Trump to cut off funding to UN agencies that promote abortion.

The administration of President Donald Trump is planning to stop funding any United Nations (UN) agency that promotes “the performance of abortion or sterilisation as a method of family planning”.

It is one of a number of prohibitions in the executive order that sets up a process for reviewing all American contributions to the UN—and automatically eliminating many others.

Also on the chopping block is “any United Nations affiliate or other international organisation that grants full membership to the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian Liberation Organisation”; any organisation “substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism”; and any group circumventing sanctions against North Korea or Iran.

The draft order, if enacted, would be a significant expansion on the so-called Global Gag Rule, which was first implemented by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

It was overturned during every Democratic administration, but Trump reinstated and expanded by it this week.

The Global Gag Rule only restricts usage of federal funding to organisations that do not promote (or even mention) abortion.

Trump’s draft order goes further to include sterilisation, a crucial medical procedure for women in a world where an estimated 300,000 women die during childbirth annually.

The United Nations Population Fund is one of several UN organisations that would receive a “special review of funding” under the draft order.

UNFPA states as its aim “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

The organisation fights against child marriage, female genital mutilation, and maternal death. In addition, the UNFPA has played a role in assuring that pregnant women fleeing conflict are able to safely give birth.

UN Announces Establishment Of Global Emergency Education Fund

The UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr Gordon Brown, on Monday, announced the establishment of
Global Emergency Education Fund for out-of-school children due to conflicts, diseases or natural disasters.

Brown, former UK Prime Minister, told reporters in New York via telephone link that the Fund would be officially unveiled during the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), scheduled to take place from May 23 to May 24 in Istanbul, Turkey.

He said “the Fund will assist Nigeria, where Boko Haram forced the closure of over 5,000 schools.

“It will also take care of funding for Nepal, where 900,000 children are out of school because of earthquake emergency and South Sudan.”

The fund, he added, would build on the recent Syrian initiative which promised one million Syrian refugees schooling in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

The former British prime minister said that the Fund, to be known as “Education Cannot Wait”, was a historic, global first that would seek “substantial
sums” from government and businesses, to urgently provide for the over 30 million displaced girls and boys.

He added that “the Fund is the only chance to save a generation lost to wars, child marriage, forced labour and recruitment for violent extremism.

“I call upon Western leaders in particular, to set up the platform and act now.”

Brown said that the funding campaign, which would start on May 23, would raise 3.84 billion Dollars in the next five years.

“The Fund spent three years in the making and will fill the gap where education falls through the net, between humanitarian aid, which focuses in food and shelter and development aid, which is by definition focused on the long term.

“We will engage philanthropic companies in innovative solutions to deliver education, including bold experiments in online education to help refugees in camps and those holed up in huts and tents.

“Such bold initiative will offer millions of the world’s displaced children their first chance of schooling.”



UN Official Says Now Is The Time To Flush Out Boko Haram

A UN top aid official in Cameroon, Najat Rochdi, on Tuesday said Boko Haram Islamist militant group was expanding and the time to stop them was now.
Rochdi, who is Resident Coordinator of UN aids activities in the country, said in Yaoundé that the terrorists’ strategy was to demonstrate its power with daily suicide bombings, using young girls.
“Its offensive is bankrupting Cameroon’s economy and destroying a fragile society, especially influencing the young.
Boko Haram is giving them a sense, because they are convincing them that it is a sacrifice for the better. So we have to show them that they don’t have to die to have a better life,” she said.

She said that there was a chance to stop and uproot their activities in Cameroon, because the group’s recruits were driven by poverty and marginalisation.
“If it was Jihadism, we all know it’s very difficult to compete with God. But, because it’s just about having a voice and empowerment and economic opportunities and believing in a future, that’s something we know how to do,” Rochdi said.
She recalled that Boko Haram declared allegiance to the Islamic State in March and stepped up its bombing, tripling Cameroon’s number of displaced people to 158,000.
Rochdi said the group now straddled the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon with number estimated at 40,000 and ambitions to set up an oil-rich Islamic state around Lake Chad.
“We used to have pockets of Boko Haram, it’s definitely expanding.
“It looks like they are trying to break through inside the country and also towards the borders in the east, the borders with Central African Republic,’’ she said.
She said the impact of the sect’s activity on farming and markets had more than doubled the number of food-insecure people to 2.2 million and that more than 15 per cent of children were acutely malnourished.
Rochdi said that UN was trying to counter Boko Haram by re-establishing markets and the jobs that went with them as well as getting children back to school.
She said that the danger was that Boko Haram could grow and link up with other Islamist groups, potentially triggering a worse refugee crisis in Europe than the one seen this year.



UN Cautions Nigerians Against Open Defecation

The Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, has cautioned Nigerians against indulging in open defecation because of its adverse effects on human health and the environment.


Kayanja told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that investigation had shown that “20 per cent of Nigerians do not have toilets’’, and engaged in open defecation.


The UN official, therefore, enjoined Nigerian governments, private businesses and organisations to provide more modern toilets in schools, homes, public places, highways and strategic locations.

“About 20 per cent of Nigerians have been reported to still be engaging in open defecation even when the UN targets 2025 for the global end to open defecation.

“Nigerians need to know that the practice of open defecation is very dangerous to their health and the environment. Open defecation will expose them to different deadly infectious diseases.

“It is, therefore, important that the different levels of governments, every house and private organisations ensure that more toilets are provided for people to easily access,’’ he said.

The director, who commended Nigeria’s effort and victory over Ebola Virus Diseases (EVD) and Polio, called on the governments and the public to also take the issue of toilet provision seriously.

Kayanja expressed optimism that adequate provision of toilets would reduce people’s contact with infectious diseases.

He also urged Nigerians to always ensure that they drink clean water from clean sources to reduce their exposure to water borne diseases.



Filippo Grandi Emerges UN High Commissioner for Refugees

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, welcomed the election of Mr Filippo Grandi of Italy as the next United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR).
Grandi, who will succeed António Guterres of Portugal, was elected on Wednesday in New York by the General Assembly.
In the statement, Ban expressed his utmost gratitude for Guterres’ tireless efforts and dedication in protecting refugees, displaced persons and stateless people.
The UN Chief also thanked Guterres for bringing the plight of the most vulnerable, and their pursuit of a dignified existence, into the centre of the United Nations agenda.
According to the statement, Grandi was most recently Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 2010 to 2014.
It added that he has been engaged in international cooperation for over 30 years.
It further stated that Grandi brought vast experience to his new position from his work in refugee and humanitarian operations and policies, addressing human consequences of major conflicts, among others.
Born in 1957, Grandi holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome, a degree in modern history from the State University of Milan and an honorary degree (D.Litt.) from the University of Coventry.

UN Releases $17m For Drought Victims In Ethiopia

Stephen O’Brien, UN Humanitarian Chief, said 17 million dollars had been released from Central Emergency Response Fund to support people affected by drought in Ethiopia.
He said on Friday in New York, during a news conference that the assistance became imperative because the El Nino global climactic event had wreaked havoc on Ethiopia’s summer rains.
“This comes on the heels of failed spring rains, and has driven food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages in affected areas of the country,” he said.
O’Brien added that “a timely response to the emergency is critical, and that if we don’t act today, we face an even graver situation tomorrow, with more immense needs in 2016.”

He said investigation revealed that the number of people who needed food assistance in East Africa was forecast to increase to more than 22 million at the start of 2016, with 15 million of those in Ethiopia alone.



Be Responsible Always, Patience Jonathan Urges Women

Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan, has challenged women to always be responsible and to use their positions to positively impact on the society especially the less privileged.

Mrs. Jonathan gave the challenge Sunday in Abuja, at the Miss United Nations Nigeria Pageant 2015.

Vivian Nnamani, who represented the Federal Capital Territory, emerged as the Miss United Nations (Nigeria) while Kessy Isong, who represented Akwa Ibom state emerged as the first runner up at the pageant.

The winners are expected to go home with a cash reward and a brand new car.
The pageant had a category for singles, married women, single mothers and teens.

Winners of the teens and married women categories would be further groomed and would join Miss United Nations (Nigeria) to represent the country at the main Miss United Nations Pageant holding in July in Kingston, Jamaica.

The first lady who was represented at the event by Peace Nnaji had earlier also congratulated Precious Chikwendu who won the 2014 edition of the pageant in Kingston, Jamaica.

She expressed optimism that such pageants would enable contestants develop their personalities and make them stronger and passionate to positively impact on the society.

She said Miss Chikwendu brought honour to Nigeria by virtue of her not only winning the crown, but also the hosting right for the Nigerian version of the pageant.

She added that being a beauty queen, was not as easy as it seems, because the queen has to be the best in whatever she does in order to achieve her goals.

“Remember, looking good is worth all the troubles,” she said. “This is because beauty is the totality of the state of a woman`s health, physically, psychologically and mentally.”

The first lady, however, reminded the contestants that it was alright to lose, because there were no losers in pageants as all contestants were winners.

She also added that pageant was not only about winning the crown, but also about what was done after the victory and charged the contestants to be responsible and useful to the society; a character, she said, the outgoing queen, Chikwendu, had exhibited during her tenure.

The first lady added that on her part, she had through her various NGOs and programmes, encouraged the girl-child and women generally, to be who they want to be and express their natural talents.

She assured the outgoing Queen of her continued support in her determination to make young women better citizens.

Using her Snow White Foundation NGO, the outgoing queen, said she adopted a lifecycle approach of development, focusing its interventions on children, their families and the larger community with emphasis on the less privileged.

According to her, beauty transcends the physical, is not just an outward thing, but also the inner qualities of an individual.

She maintained that beauty pageant had moved beyond wearing a crown and cat-walking to impact positively on the society.

The outgoing queen, explained that the main focus of the pageant was to have volunteers who were ready to use beauty to add value to humanity.

She held that it focuses on volunteer work, adding that each contestant must have a background in volunteer work for her community.

“This sisterhood strengthens them to see beyond their immediate surroundings and situations and extends their services across the globe.

“As each contestant shares ideas of how she serves her community, more women would be strengthened and edified because their paths have crossed for good,” she said.

The contestants at the 2015 Nigerian version of the pageant were assessed on the basis of character, personality, conversational skill, beauty, fashion and intelligence.
The Director Media and Publicity, the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, who was one of the special guests at the pageant, descried it as exceptional.

“This is a pageant with a different; I am excited to be here and so proud about the contestants and the organizers of the event,” he said.

“I am particularly happy that the first lady said such nice things about the pageant and the organisers and her assurance of continued support,” he said

The 2015 Miss United Nations Nigeria Pageant, was sponsored by Chikwendu, the outgoing Queen.

Credit – Premium timesng