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Over 7 million children are on the move in West, Central Africa each year.

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AS part of a new report, UNICEF has announced that children account for over half of the 12 million West and Central African people on the move each year, with some 75 per cent of them remaining in sub-Saharan Africa, and less than one in five heading to Europe.

In Search of Opportunities: Voices of children on the move in West and Central Africa looks at the main drivers behind regional child migration and displacement, as well as longer-term implications for the region if these large scale population movements intensify as projected with current trends in population growth.

“Children in West and Central Africa are moving in greater numbers than ever before, many in search of safety or a better life,” said UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier. “Yet the majority of these children are moving within Africa, not to Europe or elsewhere. We must broaden the discussion on migration to encompass the vulnerabilities of all children on the move and expand systems to protect them, in all their intended destinations.”

The report, which is based on a series of interviews with migrants and their families from several countries, reveals a complex set of drivers for migration beyond poverty. It suggests that migration involving children and young people from West and Central Africa is likely to increase due to a confluence of factors including rapid population growth and urbanization, unequitable economic development, persistent conflict, weak governance and limited institutional capacity to support the most vulnerable populations.

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Climate change is also a major factor driving migration in West and Central Africa. The region is projected to experience a three to four degree rise in temperature this century – more than one and a half times higher than anywhere else in the world. Severe flooding and drought is already causing the loss of livelihoods and displacement, while changing climate patterns are making some forms of agriculture increasingly unsustainable. Tensions over access to scarce resources for cattle and livestock are leading to hostilities in some rural areas, pushing greater numbers of people towards cities.

The report finds that the region lacks sufficient protection systems – both within and across borders – to ensure the safety and wellbeing of refugee and migrant children, a gap which will become more pronounced with the projected increase in both national populations and migration. The report recommends that policy makers put children at the centre of any response to migration. This can be done by strengthening the chain of protection for children between countries of origin, transit and destination. The close cooperation of governments, UN, and non-governmental partners is critical in to ensure children’s access to healthcare, education and other essential services, regardless of their migration status.

UNICEF continues to urge all governments, in West and Central Africa, in Europe and elsewhere to adopt the six-point Agenda for Action for the protection of refugee and migrant children:

  1. Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied children, from exploitation and violence;
  2. End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating, by introducing a range of practical alternatives;
  3. Keep families together as the best way to protect children and give children legal status;
  4. Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services;
  5. Press for action on the underlying causes of large scale movements of refugees and migrants;
  6. Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization in countries of transit and destination.
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In addition to this Agenda for Action, UNICEF has also launched a Campaign urging the public to stand in solidarity with refugee and migrant children uprooted by war, violence and poverty. The “#AChildIsAChild” campaign has so far been supported on social media by more than 2 million people.

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Oyo commissioner, Olatunbosun urges citizens to disregard panic messages over ultimatum to herdsmen

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Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun has disclosed that citizens of the State should disregard a voice note message urging people in Ibadan to stay indoors on Friday 22nd of January due to a purported ultimatum issued by some individuals to a Fulani Community in Igangan, Ibarapa area of Oyo State.

Recall that the State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has warned individuals to respect the constitutional rights of any Nigerian to live anywhere in the country in a peaceful manner and condemned the said ultimatum in a state broadcast to the people of the state

A voice note, being circulated on Wednesday by one woman from London simply known as ‘Remi’ has urged residents of Ibadan to stay indoors on Friday so as to avoid any crisis that might arise from the outcome of the ultimatum issued to the Fulani Herdsmen Community in Igangan.

Olatubosun said the message was targeted at causing panic among the people and to tarnish the efforts of the present administration in tackling insecurity in the State.

He said Oyo State indigenes at home and in the diaspora ought to give support to the government and not to cause disaffection and unnecessary panic over an issue that has been adequately addressed by the government and concerned security agencies.

He added that the people of the State, especially in Ibadan should go about their businesses without fear of molestation or attack from any quarter.

“It is funny to hear that somebody was sending voice note from London, warning Ibadan people not to venture out on Friday because of an ultimatum issued to a Fulani Herdsmen Community in Igangan, in Ibarapa area.

“This is an issue that has been addressed by the government that nobody has the power to give such ultimatum, the constitution of Nigeria does not allow for it, especially when the said Community is not constituting security threat to lives and properties of the people.

“The government of Oyo State and security apparatus are working around the clock to give the people of the State the required peaceful atmosphere that will engender economic growth, we therefore urge our people, especially in Ibadan to ignore the voice note message and go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation or attack from any quarter.”

The commissioner called on the residents of the State to be wary of scaremongers who he said could create psychological crisis where such was not in existence.

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‘Our enemies are kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers, not Hausa-Fulani’, says Makinde

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Oyo state governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde has reiterated that his administration is determined to bring insecurity to its knees in the state by dealing decisively with troublemakers.

Governor Makinde, who made the declaration in a state-wide broadcast to residents of the state, aired on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), on Wednesday urged residents to come together and put the interest of Oyo State first in the fight against  insecurity.

He averred that the collective efforts of all residents of the state is the only way to continue to keep the peace and sustain the secure environment, which he said, has contributed to the growth of the state’s economy in the past.

The governor added that his administration is taking all necessary steps to protect the people from harassment, thuggery, cultism and banditry, noting that the state “has the situation under control.”

Governor Makinde promised to deal with anyone disrupting the peace of the state.

This is coming a few days after a police report indicated that the rate of armed robbery incidents in the state reduced by more than 32 per cent in 2020,  compared to the previous year 2019.

The state government has also expressed its determination to stamp out brigandage, kidnapping and other violent crimes.

Makinde emphasized that the state has a common enemy in hoodlums, bandits and kidnappers, who, he said, have been fomenting troubles in the state.

He noted that the enemies of Oyo State are neither the Hausa-Fulani pastoralists, who are looking for pasture for their flock nor the farmers, who are seeking to produce food for human consumption.

He warned individuals going about issuing ultimatum to Fulani residents of the state to desist from such acts, declaring that as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, he, as governor, would protect every Nigerian’s rights to reside in any part of the country.

Governor Makinde told individuals or groups planning to take actions that would lead to the forcible removal of anyone from the state to desist from such line of action, noting that anyone who fails to abide by his directive will face the full wrath of the law.

Governor Makinde warned residents of the state against taking judgement into their hands,  adding that there are bodies constitutionally empowered to arrest and prosecute criminals.

He said that the  responsibility of residents is to help the security agencies  identify the enemies of the people.

The governor equally acknowledged the efforts of some officers of the Nigeria Police Force who, according to him, have resumed their constitutional duties of maintaining law and order in the state, even as he encouraged the leadership of the Police to continue to collaborate with his administration to secure the state.

“The past few weeks’ events have made it imperative that I address issues that have to do with the internal security of our dear state.

“We cannot overlook the fact that there have indeed been instances that cause concern. The fragile peace between the herdsmen and farmers in Oke Ogun is being threatened. “Individuals who are not authorised are going around chasing people from their homes and causing mayhem. This assault on residents of Oyo State is not the way to further the Yoruba cause.

“Let me state that we shall not sit back and watch anyone make any law-abiding resident of Oyo State feel unsafe in their homes, farms, or business places. We are aware of some people circulating flyers and giving people ultimatums to leave their land. This is totally unacceptable and will not be condoned.

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“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which I swore to defend and protect, guarantees freedom of movement in Section 41(1), such that citizens are free to reside in any part of the country without fear. We are determined to preserve that right in Oyo State”, he said.

The governor, who called on local government chairpersons, traditional rulers and other sectors of the state to work with the security agencies to secure the state and ensure maximum peace said: “All Local Government and Local Council Development Area Chairpersons are directed to work with the traditional rulers and the officers of the security agencies to ensure that peace is maintained in all parts of the state.

“Let me also use this medium to speak to our traditional rulers. They must not be part of any plans to disrupt the peaceful coexistence of residents of Oyo State.

“I must reiterate that we will not hesitate to take appropriate action against any individuals who try to disrupt the peace in Oyo State. Our administration is taking all necessary steps to protect the good people of Oyo State from harassment, thuggery and banditry. We believe we have the situation under control.

“It is time for us to come together and put the interests of our state first. We have a common enemy. That enemy is not the Hausa- Fulani who is looking for pasture for his flock. It is not the farmer who just wants to grow food to sell in the market or to feed his family. Our enemies are the hoodlums, cultists, armed robbers, kidnappers and bandits. These people live among us.

“With our collective efforts, we can continue to keep the peace in Oyo State. Together, we can preserve the secure environment that has contributed to the growth of our economy”, the governor concluded.

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Ondo youth group backs Akeredolu, says no going back on quit notice to herders

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The leadership of Ondo State Youth Network, a coordinated group of Youth and Students leaders across the state have thrown it’s full weight behind Governor Rotimi Akeredolu pronouncement ordering herdsmen to vacate Ondo state within seven days.

It will be recalled that Governor Akeredolu on Monday in a statement ordered Herdsmen to vacate all forest reserves in the state and also outlawed Under-age grazing, Night-grazing and also banned the movement of Cattle within the cities and highways of the state.

Akeredolu’s order was in response to the killings and kidnappings happening in the state, which have largely been blamed on Fulani herdsmen through reported stories of victims and survivors of their brutality.

However, the Presidency, through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu on Tuesday condemned this order, insisting that the Governor should not enforce such .

Speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, the group’s publicist, Oluwatosin Akinbulumo informed that the leadership of the network and all her members are in total support of the governor’s order as it is a sacred steps towards ensuring the safety of residents of the state and their properties.

“Our forests have become haven to evil kidnappers and one of the deadliest terrorist group in the world causing great havoc on innocent citizens of the state and commuters. The governor’s order is a welcome development which will serve as a pedestal towards the cleansing of our forest off these demonic agents.

“As a development-oriented youth group, we believe assured security is an important catalyst for growth and sustainability, and we can’t afford to fold our hands and allow some evil agents jeopardize the peace and tranquility we enjoy in Ondo State”, he said.

Speaking further, Oluwatosin stated that the youth group is ready to mobilize young men and women of the state to defend the borders of the state if the State Government is cowed by the Presidency and end up not enforcing the earlier announced order.

He added, “We will not hesitate to mobilize heavily to confront these killers masquerading as herdsmen if the Governor refuse to ‘do the talk’, and ensure they vacate our forest and highways within the seven days ultimatum announced by the Governor”.

The group’s mouthpiece also encouraged other State Governors in Southwest to follow in the path of Governor Akeredolu.

“These herdsmen are all over Southwest, from Saki in Oyo State to Shagamu in Ogun State, they are everywhere and have found refuge in our forest reserves from where they perpetrate the heinous acts causing havoc on our people. Our Governors must unite to ensure the peace we enjoy in Southwest remain nonnegotiable”, he continued.

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