The UN on Tuesday called on the international community to help Somalia avert a major humanitarian crisis due to the combined effect of devastating floods, desert locusts and the widespread impact of COVID-19.
Justin Brady, head of Office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Somalia warned that the political and security gains made by Somalia over recent years could be at risk of reversal if swift action is not taken to avert the crisis.
“We expect to see a portion of the crops this year lost to the locust infestation, which will compound the food security and nutrition situation for many Somalis,” he added.
The UN official said Somalia’s coping mechanisms are significantly less than those of the neighboring countries.
“Therefore, the impact of floods, locusts and COVID-19 is not simply humanitarian but has the potential to reverse some of the political and security gains that the international community has invested in over the past decade,” said Brady.
According to the UN, about 500,000 people have been displaced by recent floods in Somalia’s central regions, while the country is also dealing with a severe locust infestation which threatens food security and nutrition for many.
The UN said the pandemic has led to major socio-economic disruptions across Somalia, including a reduction in remittances from the Diaspora, itself a mainstay for many Somalis, and a reduction in casual labor opportunities due to COVID-19 restrictions, making it difficult for many to cope.
“We need to continue to work together and expand the coordination with the private sector, civil society and have more engagement with the diaspora,” Brady said.
He said the UN‘s warning takes into account Somalia’s inherent structural weaknesses, which make the country far more vulnerable than the other countries in the region, and calls for an all hands on deck approach to avert the worst.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said it has acquired equipment to help eradicate the locusts in infested areas in locations such as Hargeisa, Galmudug and Puntland. The infestation is Somalia‘s worst outbreak in 25 years.
The FAO Country Representative in Somalia, Etienne Peterschmitt, believes that the impact of the current desert locust outbreak in Somalia could, by September, increase the number of Somalis facing food insecurity or severe hunger by half a million.
Somalia was already struggling with floods and an invasion of desert locusts in the northern parts of the country when COVID-19 struck, further aggravating the situation by putting pressure on the country’s fragile health system, thereby causing a major public health crisis.
“Unless we are able to rapidly scale up our response operations, unless we get adequate funding from our donors, we will not be able to respond to this need of the government and that window is closing very rapidly,” said the WHO Country Representative for Somalia, Mamunur Rahman Malik.
According to the UN, while some half a million people have been displaced, overall, more than a million people have been affected by flash and riverine floods in Somalia.
In March, Somalia launched the National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19, seeking 57 million U.S. dollars for the next six months.
Health Minister says 10% of COVID-19 cases are under-19
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire says records show that 10 per cent of all positive COVID-19 cases treated are below the age of 19 years.
According to him, with regard to COVID-19 and growing complacency, it is important to stress that, even though adults, especially those 60 years and above are more vulnerable, complications do occur in all age groups.
“Records show that 10 percent of all positive cases we have treated are below the age of 19 years.
” They are also the same mobile group that can be without symptoms, but can easily spread the disease.
“Therefore, as schools begin to reopen in some areas, I urge caution and adherence to the protocols and advisories for reopening schools, to prevent COVID-19 surge,” he said.
Speaking on the need for testing, the minister noted that it was important for the country to generate national and international confidence in the nation’s data by conducting more targeted testing before conclusions were drawn.
“It means that all States and local government areas must cooperate with NCDC by raising sample collection rate, using criteria listed, to increase testing to a desired rate and to report promptly; as we are still far from the target of two million tests.
“In this regard, we can support States with community volunteers for contact tracing, case finding and investigation.
“While stepping up surveillance and case finding, states can also ensure that suspected symptomatic COVID cases are sent for treatment in time or supported before then with medical oxygen, to save lives and reduce fatalities.
“The recommended criteria for testing are: persons who have been in contact with a COVID positive patient or are associated with a cluster of persons of interest, those who have any of the four classical symptoms of fever, persistent cough, loss of sense of taste or smell and breathlessness; anyone facing surgery, as well as for any other compelling reason. Testing for travel is assigned to private laboratories.”
He also stated that the distribution of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to various health institutions commenced with training of about 176 intensive care specialists, and biomedical engineers, who would use or maintain them in the hospitals.
Ehanire disclosed that the ventilators and training were courtesy of the United States government and it shall complement what they have at the ICUs.
The minister also commended health workers in JOHESU, for putting an end to their industrial action, adding that it was his desire to work with them to resolve issues of concern.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols
He said that there were increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven to be very successful.
He said face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, called for vigilance in order to forestall any danger of second wave of the pandemic as the countries in Europe were currently facing.
According to him, the call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
” Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
Speaking on the second wave of the virus across the world, the PTF chairman said, “Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom was considering another lockdown phase, Spain was enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO), has advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave, especially as ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.”
On the reopening of airports for international travels, Mustapha noted that the PTF would continue to work with partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
He, however, urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus.
“We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,”
Edited By: Felix Ajide
ECOWAS Court set to resume from extended vacation on Oct. 7
The ECOWAS Court will be resuming its activities on Oct. 7, after its three months vacation.
This is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the media office of the justices.
The court will deliver judgment in nine cases filed against eight some member states.
It added that the cases were also filed against Nigeria’s Cross River State and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and listed in the latest course list released by the Registry of the Court for the period Sept. 25 to Oct. 28.
According to the court, among those listed for judgment is a case filed by Counsellor Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia against the government.
“The former Justice is challenging his removal from office on the grounds that it did not follow due process while he was not granted fair hearing.
“In another of the cases scheduled for judgment, a former staff of the ECOWAS Commission, Prof. AbdulSalami Nasidi, sued the Commission alleging the wrongful termination of his appointment,” it said.
It recalled that the Court began sessions and judicial activities to guarantee continuous access to justice and timely delivery of justice in line with its mandate.
It noted that the virtual operations were in a bounnd to adhere to the safety guidelines recommended by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and the WHO following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in the year.
“The Court held its inaugural “virtual” court session on June 22, 2020 after it adopted a new Practice Direction in May 2020 that allowed the use of Electronic Case Management System for electronic filing (e-filing) and Virtual Court Sessions as part of measures to ensure the safety of its members, staff, lawyers and other stakeholders.
“Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, President of the Court had stated in July 2020 that the Court would proceed on annual vacation from July 15 to Sept. 15, 2020 in accordance with Article 24 of its Rules,” the court added.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
At 75, UN remains true to aspirations of founders -Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the United Nations for remaining true to the aspirations of its founders, saying the international organisation has continued to play the crucial role of fostering global peace and security.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman disclosed that Buhari stated this when he joined world leaders at a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, on Monday.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the UN for the first time convened world leaders in a virtual format for the High-level meetings and the annual General Debate.
In his video message to the UN at 75 event, Buhari amplified Nigeria’s achievements at the UN since 1960 when the country officially joined the organisation.
He highlighted the country’s active contribution in human, financial and material resources to several United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, among other priorities.
The Nigerian leader said: ”On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I wish to express sincere felicitation to Member States for the giant strides taken towards achieving the objectives of the Organization thus far.
”Today’s celebration is a remarkable milestone in the history of the United Nations. It affords us the opportunity to review our progress and challenges as well as chart the course for our future.
”For over seven decades, the United ‘Nations has remained true to the aspirations of its founders. It continues to play a crucial role in fostering global peace and security.
”The Organisation has grown in membership and scope to reflect contemporary global trends.
”Collectively, we have improved and saved lives, as well as defended the rights of the vulnerable in adherence to the principles of the United Nations.
”More so, we have worked together to shelter refugees; foster development; invest in conflict resolution and peacekeeping; and promoted women’s and children’s rights.
”Moreover, we have jointly intensified the fight against deadly diseases such as Malaria, Ebola, Tuberculosis, and the Coronavirus pandemic.”
On decolonisation, the president called on Member States to abide by UN Resolution 1514 on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.
He warned that ‘‘the quest to realise total decolonisation remains incomplete as long as Non-Self-Governing territories continue to exist.’’
The Nigerian leader noted that beyond the spheres of peace and security, the United Nations had also played active roles in the decolonization of many territories.
”This was achieved through the adoption of many Resolutions that supported the independence and subsequent admission of over Eighty (80) territories into the Organization.
”However, the quest to realise total decolonisation remains incomplete as long as Non-Self-Governing territories continue to exist.
”In this regard, I call on Member States to abide by UN Resolution 1514 on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples,’’ he said.
On Nigeria’s participation at the UN, Buhari said the country has remained a reliable partner of the United Nations in its aspiration to achieve its mandate of a more peaceful, secure, and developed world.
”This year’s celebration is significant to Nigeria as it coincides with our Sixtieth (60) Anniversary of joining this esteemed Organization.
”As an active member of the Organisation, Nigeria has contributed human, financial and material resources to several United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
”We have also provided humanitarian aid to refugees and displaced persons; helped countries in tackling diseases such as Ebola and extended both human and financial resources as technical aid to other countries.
”In addition, we have served on five occasions as Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council and contributed significantly to the promotion of international peace and security,” he said.
According to him, in spite of progress made in safeguarding world peace and promoting global cooperation, the world is still faced with complex challenges.
”Efforts to address impediments for the attainment of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were undermined by the advent of Coronavirus pandemic which brought about unprecedented challenges that cannot be tackled by any single country or region.
”The inward-looking tendencies exhibited by Member States in the wake of the pandemic have particularly revealed an urgent need for us to strengthen international cooperation, unity and solidarity to address all negative developments including climate change, violent extremism, natural disasters, and cyber-security.
”However, as we continue to battle the pandemic and search for possible solutions, including an effective vaccine, we implore nations to adopt a global approach in addressing the global health emergency in a bid to build the future we want,” he said.
The president also used the occasion to emphasize the imperative of a fair and equitable representation in the Security Council, ”if we must achieve the United Nations we need.”
He said: ”The demand for the reform of the United Nations Security Council is just and a place for Africa in the very strategic Organ of the Organisation is long-overdue.
”In our collective effort to rebuild the United Nations of our dream, Nigeria reaffirms her commitment to upholding the principles of the United Nations including: Human Rights, Peace and Security, as well as Democratic governance.
”I, therefore, reiterate Nigeria’s rededication to multilateralism and the rules-based international system.
”It is my hope that this anniversary will encourage us to respond to the numerous challenges we face and support efforts aimed at building the United Nations System we desire.”
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz