Repair work at Beirut port’s hangar may be cause of explosion – Defense Council



A meeting of the Lebanese Supreme Defense Council said that a massive blast that occurred in the port of Beirut on Tuesday evening might have been the result of maintenance work at the site.

The council said at an emergency meeting that followed the blast that a door of the port’s hangar, where explosive materials were stored, did not close properly, local media reported.

Following the tragic incident, the city’s governor said that half of the Beirut’s buildings were damaged, and hospitals were overcrowded due to a large number of injured people.

More than 80 people were killed and some 4,000 injured.

“(Some) 2,750 tonnes – the amount of ammonium exploded in the port of Beirut – are materials that were seized in 2014 from the Rhosus dry-cargo ship, registered in Moldova, when it was heading to Africa and suffered damages during navigation,” the Defense Council said, as quoted by local LBCI broadcaster.

During the meeting, representatives of the Lebanese security service said that an explosion took place as a door was being welded, the channel reported.

It was discovered some time ago that the hangar’s door was not properly locked, and there was a gap by the wall, which made it easy to both enter and leave the hangar, the emergency meeting of the defense council said.

“A spark led to the burning of explosive materials in the hangar that then led to a blast of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which is equivalent to 1,800 tonnes of TNT,” Lebanese officials said.

The Lebanese government has declared a three-day mourning for the victims of the tragedy starting Wednesday.

In 2014, the Rhosus cargo ship’s owner abandoned the vessel in Beirut.

Meanwhile, high-risk goods – in particular, ammonium nitrate, which was prohibited from being unloaded or transferred to another vessel by Beirut’s port authorities – remained in the hold.

The cargo stored at the ship was then transported to an appropriate place, but, eventually was moved to hangar 12 at the port.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)


UNICEF launches cash assistance programme in Lebanon



The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday launched an emergency cash assistance programme to support people affected by Beirut’s port explosions on Aug. 4, LBCI local TV channel reported.

The UNICEF noted that the programme will reach 80,000 children and adults affected by the explosions.

UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Yukie Mokuo noted that the assistance programme can play a vital role in supporting those who suffered the most from the blasts.

Two huge explosions rocked Beirut’s port on Aug. 4, destroying a big part of the city while killing around 190 people and wounding no fewer than 6,000 others.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/ Maharazu Ahmed
Source: NAN
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Climate Change: Environment ministry partners with German foundation on NDC



The Federal Ministry of Environment is partnering with German foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) to conduct nationwide youth consultations on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) enhancement in the country.

Mr Seyifunmi Adebote, an environmentalist and State Coordinator, International Climate Change Development Initiative, made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja.

Adebote said that the nationwide consultations would bring meaningful youth engagement into Nigeria’s NDC enhancement process and in tracking the implementation process.

“In continued efforts to ensure youth involvement and active engagement in climate policy development, the ministry of environment is partnering with a non-profit German foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) to conduct a nationwide youth consultations on (NDC) enhancement in Nigeria.

“Building upon the International Youth Day event and the virtual validation workshop of NDC Youth Action Manual which held Aug. 12 and 25 respectively, the National Youth Climate Consultation on NDC Enhancement in Nigeria will establish clear plans.

“The plans will be for permanent and meaningful youth engagement in Nigeria’s NDC process beyond the current enhancement, including in the wider activities of the ministry

“It will be recalled that Nigeria had youths as part of its official delegation for the first time at the Conference of Parties during the COP25 in Madrid and this is furtherance of such concrete engagement.

“As an outcome of this youth consultation on NDC, eight NDC Youth Working Groups (YWGs), will be establish across the eight sectors to officially feed into the final government NDC.

“The sectors are agriculture, energy, oil and gas, industry, transport, water, waste management group and cross-cutting issues, finance and investment, gender and youth.

“ Nigerian youths are encouraged to be a part by registering to attend via

“The NDCs, which embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and central to the achievement of these long-term goals.’’


Adebote said that Nigeria and 185 other countries submitted their first NDCs in 2015 and Nigeria was planning to submit the revised NDC by 1st quarter of 2021.

“Considering that the NDCs are submitted every five years to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, an updated NDC is required for all party members,’’ he said.

He said that each climate plan reflects the country’s ambition for reducing emissions, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities.

The coordinator said that the updated NDCs were expected to enhance the ambition of the Paris Agreement and provide a progression compared to the previous NDC while reflecting its highest possible ambition.

“Until recently, only four parties have submitted their second NDCs, namely Moldova, the Marshall Islands, Suriname and Norway.’’

He said that the consultation was expected to hold virtually on Sept. 11, via zoom with Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State for Environment and Daniel Mann, Resident Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Nigeria expected to deliver crucial remarks.


He added that Samira Ibrahim, the Centre Director, Centre for Policy Research and Development Solutions would moderate the event.

Mr Huzi Mshelia, NDC Revision Coordinator, Department of Climate Change of the ministry, Olumide Idowu, Co-founder, International Climate Change Development Initiative and Adebote, Host, Climate Talk Podcast will be speaking at the event.

Edited By: Grace Yussuf
Source: NAN
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FG, Okonjo-Iweala seek global support as election for WTO top job begins



Nigeria has appealed for global support for its candidate as election process for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General position began on Monday in Geneva.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s two-time Finance Minister and a development economist is vying for the job alongside candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, UK, Saudia Arabia, Kenya, and South Korea.

At a reception held in Geneva to garner support for Iweala, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi the Minister of Trade and Investment  described her as a global icon with proven leadership skills that the WTO required.

Adeniyi, who was represented by the Mr Abdulhamid Adamu, Charge d’ Affairs of the Nigerian Trade Office in Geneva listed some of Iweala’s achievements as spearheading negotiations and reforms that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthening institutions against corruption, among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in the first phase of the election process, Amb. David Walker, Chair of the WTO’s  General Council and his colleagues from the Dispute Settlement body, Mr Dacio Castillo as well as  that of  the Trade Policy Review body, Mr Harald Aspelund will commence consultations with all WTO members.

The consultation is geared toward assessing their preferences to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support.

At the end of the first phase of consultation three candidates will be dropped thereby paving the way for five candidates to move to the next level.

Okonjo-Iweala in an interview with NAN expressed her readiness for the job saying she possessed the required competence.

“I want our partners and the WTO members to know that I have the bundle of skills required to lead the organisation at this time and put it ahead and face it towards the future.

“I am hoping that they will support me.

“I have had constructive discussions with the WTO members and feel really good and confident but nothing is done until it’s done. So I don’t want to be overconfident “ She said.

She also expressed appreçiation to President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Staff Prof. Ibrahim Gambari for nominating and supporting her.

Okonjo-Iweala also expressed gratitude to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama for his support.

The WTO election process usually lasts up to two months.

So far, no date has been fixed yet for the announcement of the winner.


Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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Okonjo-Iweala reiterates vital role WTO can play in ÇOVID-19 vaccine production



Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has reiterated the vital role the World Trade Organisation (WTO) can play in producing a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.

Okonjo-Iweaka underscored the role of the global trade body in Geneva at a reception held in her honor by the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN while appealing for global support for her candidacy as the race for the World Trade Organisation( WTO) Director General position enters the election phase.

“When vaccines and therapeutic medicine are produced, the WTO should be able to facilitate accessibility and equitable distribution to all member nations.

“To this end, trade has to be a strong recovery out of the global recession. And that makes a multilateral trading system part of the solution,” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala, who currently chairs the Board of GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, is the only candidate at the centre of public health vying for the WTO top job.

She said her experiences in GAVI were an added advantage, as they would enable her to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries in the drive toward producing vaccines.

According to her,  e-Commerce and digital economy are vital forms of trade in the new normal brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

She, however, spoke of the need to address the digital divide challenge dichotomy between developing and least developed countries, where infrastructure remains a major impediment to such form of trade.

“There is need for WTO to collaborate with finance agencies to address these issues otherwise it remains an impediment to multilateral trading system.

“If elected as director general, you have an ally, who is interested in addressing these challenges,” she said.

In his remarks, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment described Okonjo-Iweala as a global icon with proven leadership skills that the WTO would require.

Adeniyi, who was represented by Mr Abdulhamid Adamu, Charge d’ Affairs of the Nigerian Trade Office in Geneva, stated that Okonjo-Iweala has achieved a lot of positives some of which are spearheading negotiations and reforms that enhanced transparency of government accounts, as well as strengthening institutions against corruption.

In separate presentations, Amb. Baba Madugu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland, and Amb. Leopold Samba of the Central African Republic, applauded  Okonjo-Iweala for her desire to be the WTO chief.

They described her as the best candidate for the position given her pedigree and skills.

The event was attended by WTO ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps of the UN in Geneva, and international trade experts.

Candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, Republic of Korea, Kenya, UK, and Saudi Arabia are also vying for the WTO top job.


Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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