United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale says President Bola Tinubu-led administration is on track in addressing humanitarian crises in Nigeria.
Schmale said this while answering questions from the UN correspondent in New York on his experience working with the Nigerian Government.
Schmale, who was at UN headquarters in New York to attend Resident Coordinators retreat commended the efforts of the Government of Nigeria on addressing humanitarian crises.
“I think that the Tinubu’s administration is on a good track; the President recently launched Presidential Humanitarian Trust Fund and he is asked at this trust to address humanitarian crises.
“He’s asked that this trust fund is resourced two thirds from within Nigeria, private sector and government, each and a third international community solidarity.
“So, we think that’s the right way to go in Nigeria, despite some desperate indicators around poverty and so on as a middle income country.
“We welcome that the government under President Tinubu sees it as their responsibility to drive preparedness and response to humanitarian concerns,’’ he said,
The Federal Executive Council had on October 24 approved the creation of a Humanitarian and Poverty Trust Fund to raise at least a sum of five billion dollars annually.
The goal of the trust fund is to enable the Federal Government to respond promptly to humanitarian situations in the country.
The funds will be sourced from the Federal Government, private and international organisations as well as well-meaning individuals.
According to him, development Agenda is very high for the government and some people will argue you can prevent the fertile ground from combat for violent extremism growing if you invest into development.
“You will have heard from our leadership, the UN Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General and around rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.
“The new government is very much up for that. We are urging the international community to take up the request for partnership to rescue the SDG agenda and help them accelerate development.’’
Answering questions on the security situation in the Northeast, he said that the Nigerian military had achieved what they call kinetic success in fighting the Boko Haram.
“So, Boko Haram, again, as a summary term is weaker than it used to be.
“Our assessment would be that they cannot sustain the kinds of military campaigns against the military but instead, what they are doing is inflicting violence on civilians, you know their violence has become more unpredictable.’’
The UN envoy said the organisation had been seeing rising numbers of civilians being killed and tortured because they do random attacks all over the places, which also means it’s become less safe for civilians, but also humanitarian, so that hasn’t changed.
In addition, he expressed concern over the instability in Niger that Islamic violent extremist groups from the country might also spread to the northeast Nigeria.
“So right now, North Nigeria I think is relatively safe and protected from those influences as much as it can be but the region itself is not.
“For the UN, I think it’s fair to say the influence of violent extremist groups remains of grave concern,’’ Schmale said.
NAN reports that Schmale, also visited Washington, DC, where he discussed humanitarian, development and peacebuilding challenges and opportunities with interlocutors from the United States.
He met with officials from the U.S. State Department, USAID, the U.S. Institute of Peace, civil society and the media as well as senior staffers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
He highlighted the troubling humanitarian situation in northeastern Nigeria and the importance of international support and strengthened partnerships to address humanitarian needs, accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and combat violent extremism.
In Nigeria’s northeast, where some 700,000 children are suffering from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition, UN colleagues – working in support of the Nigerian Government – have managed to reach 3.5 million people with critical aid – in the areas of food, healthcare and shelter. (NAN)
Tears, Laughter on Gaza Beach as Children Get Break from War
Children played on a Gaza beach as displaced families left their cramped shelters for a short break during the truce between Israel and Hamas.
However, amid the laughter their parents could not forget the hardships of war and homelessness.
As children splashed in the shallow water, jumping over small waves, adults in bare feet watched from the shore.
Asmaa al-Sultan, a displaced woman from northern Gaza, sat on the sand with her arm around her mother.The older woman was crying quietly.
More than 30 members of the al-Sultan family are sheltering in a UN school in the town of Deir Al-Balah with hundreds of other displaced people.
“We came to the beach to take a breather, to escape from the feeling of the crowded schools and from the depressing and polluted environment we are in,” said Asmaa.
“People come to the beach to relax, to swim, for their children to have fun, they take food with them. But we are so depressed. We are on the beach but we want to cry,” she added.
Hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes in northern Gaza, which has borne the brunt of Israel’s military assault, to seek refuge in tents, schools, or the homes of friends and relatives in the southern part of the strip.
The gruelling conditions in the tent camps and schools, with overcrowding, a dearth of toilets and showers, and long daily queues for small rations of food and water, have been compounded by the psychological impact of bombardment and displacement.
The beach at Deir Al-Balah has a row of fishermen’s huts at the back, towards the bottom of a slope strewn with rubbish.
Some displaced people had taken up residence in the flimsy huts, clothes hanging on strings outside.
Waleed al-Sultan, one of Asmaa’s younger relatives, was trying to untangle a net near the huts as he prepared to go out fishing in a small boat, hoping the truce would mean he could do so without danger.
“I brought nothing with me when I was displaced, so I thought I would make a living from fishing, but the (Israeli) guards stopped me and started shooting at us,” he said.
The war began when Hamas militants burst out of Gaza on Oct. 7 and rampaged through southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, including babies and children, and seizing 240 hostages.
Israel responded with an all-out assault on Gaza which has killed 14,800 Palestinians, four in ten of them children under 18, according to health officials in the Hamas-controlled territory.
While some displaced people have seized the opportunity of the four-day truce, which began on Friday, to check on their homes, others have been too fearful to return to the north, much of which has been reduced to a wasteland.
“We are afraid about the end of these four days. We don’t know what will happen to us next,” said Hazem al-Sultan, Asmaa’s husband.
He said they and their relatives had not dared to head north for fear of being shot at by Israeli soldiers and had no idea what state their homes might be in.
“We are afraid for our children, for ourselves, and we don’t know what to do,” he said. (Reuters/NAN)
Israel to Release another 42 Palestinian Women, Children from Prison
Another 42 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are to be released on Saturday as part of the agreement between the Israeli government and the Islamist Hamas movement, according to the Times of Israel newspaper.
Israel will initially transfer the detainees to Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank for medical examinations by International Red Cross staff, according to the newspaper, which cited Israeli prison officials.
Al Jazeera reported that the prisoners to be released include 18 women and 24 teenage boys.
As a condition of the agreement, Hamas militants must first release Israeli hostages being held in Gaza before the Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli custody, according to the report.
After their release, the Palestinians are to return to the places where they previously lived, for example in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.
The first group of Palestinian prisoners consisted of minors and women held in Israeli prisons on offences ranging from stone-throwing to attacks on police officers, including some who were arrested but never faced trial, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. (dpa/NAN)
More Trucks with Fuel, Aid Head to Gaza Under Israel-Hamas Deal
More trucks carrying humanitarian supplies moved through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the second day of a temporary truce agreed to by Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement.
Seven fuel trucks, including four loaded with cooking gas, passed through the crossing on Saturday, an Egyptian official said.
In addition, 100 trucks carrying food and medical aid bound for Gaza also crossed through Rafah, Dr Raed Abdel-Nasser, the head of the Red Crescent in Egypt’s northern Sinai, told dpa.
The Palestinian Red Crescent, meanwhile, said its teams received 196 trucks of relief supplies via Rafah on Friday from its Egyptian counterpart.
The truce agreement, which was brokered and announced by Qatar on Wednesday, involves a four-day pause in fighting between both sides.
The pause will allow desperately needed aid to flow into the densely populated Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of some hostages Hamas kidnapped during bloody Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.
Israel also agreed to release a number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons as part of the deal. (dpa/NAN)
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