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Tragic Reality : Famine Hits South Sudan.

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War and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared today, three UN agencies warned. A further 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated.

The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released today by the government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners, 4.9 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s population – are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe, the UN agencies urged. Further spread of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled up and reaches the most vulnerable.

Famine is currently affecting parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of the country. A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted more than three years ago.

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“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” said FAO Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot. “The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”

“The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July”

Malnutrition is a major public health emergency, exacerbated by the widespread fighting, displacement, poor access to health services and low coverage of sanitation facilities. The IPC report estimates that 14 of the 23 assessed counties have global acute malnutrition (GAM) at or above the emergency threshold of 15 percent, with some areas as high as 42 percent.

“More than one million children are currently estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan; over a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished. If we do not reach these children with urgent aid many of them will die,” said Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative a.i in South Sudan. “We urge all parties to allow humanitarian organizations unrestricted access to the affected populations, so we can assist the most vulnerable and prevent yet another humanitarian catastrophe.”

“This famine is man-made. WFP and the entire humanitarian community have been trying with all our might to avoid this catastrophe, mounting a humanitarian response of a scale that quite frankly would have seemed impossible three years ago. But we have also warned that there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. “We will continue doing everything we possibly can to hold off and reverse the spread of famine.”

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Across the country, three years of conflict have severely undermined crop production and rural livelihoods. The upsurge in violence since July 2016 has further devastated food production, including in previously stable areas. Soaring inflation – up to 800 percent year-on-year – and market failure have also hit areas that traditionally rely on markets to meet food needs. Urban populations are also struggling to cope with massive price rises on basic food items.

FAO, UNICEF and WFP, with other partners, have conducted massive relief operations since the conflict began, and intensified those efforts throughout 2016 to mitigate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis. In Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, among others, the IPC assessment team found that humanitarian relief had lessened the risk of famine there.

FAO has provided emergency livelihood kits to more than 2.3 million people to help them fish or plant vegetables. FAO has also vaccinated more than 6 million livestock such as goats and sheep to prevent further loss.

WFP continues to scale up its support in South Sudan as humanitarian needs increase, and plans to provide food and nutrition assistance to 4.1 million people through the hunger season in South Sudan this year. This includes lifesaving emergency food, cash and nutrition assistance for people displaced and affected by conflict, as well as community-based recovery or resilience programs and school meals.

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In 2016, WFP reached a record 4 million people in South Sudan with food assistance — including cash assistance amounting to US$13.8 million, and more than 265,000 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies. It is the largest number of people assisted by WFP in South Sudan since independence, despite problems resulting from the challenging context.

UNICEF aims to treat 207,000 children for severe acute malnutrition in 2017. Working with over 40 partners and in close collaboration with WFP, UNICEF is supporting 620 outpatient therapeutic programme sites and about 50 inpatient therapeutic sites across the country to provide children with urgently needed treatment. Through a rapid response mechanism carried out jointly with WFP, UNICEF continues to reach communities in the most remote locations. These rapid response missions treat thousands of children for malnutrition as well as provide them with immunization services, safe water and sanitation which also prevents recurring malnutrition.

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FG okays N9.4bn for power, road projects in FCT, Oyo, Ogun

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The Federal Government has approved a total of N9.4 billion for various projects including power and road in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Oyo and Ogun States.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed after the Federal Executive Council(FEC) meeting on Wednesday disclosed that the sum of N1.14 billion was approved for the award of contract for the installation of solar street lighting for the Karshi-Jikwoyi dual carriage road in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Mohammed added the contract was awarded to Messrs Bassman Nigeria Limited for a completion period of six months.

“This is a 20-kilometre street lighting project and the area hosts some very strategic institutions such as the Treasury Academy, the new Correctional Center which is under construction and it also houses the Federal Science College, the Armed Forces Post Service Housing Scheme in addition to Police Housing Scheme among others.

“Apart from beautifying the area, it also provides better security for the area. It means the SDG goal number 11 will be met and at the same time the global energy policy,” the minister explained.

Also, the Minister of State for Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba informed that the council gave approval for a 124.3 million variation of contract towards the construction of sub-station project in Lanlate, Oyo State, and Abeokuta, Ogun State.

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He stressed that this implies that the national metering programme directive by the President, will soon be completed and services will improve.

Niyi Adebayo, who is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, also revealed that FEC approved the National Quality Policy.

The policy, according to him, will see to the establishment of quality testing centers and laboratories in the country to reinforce quality in exported goods.

“This policy will create a situation whereby the government and the private sector will be able to collaborate to set up quality testing centres, testing labs which we hope will have accreditation with international centres, such that any good that has approved to have met the standard, would be of international standard,” he said.

 

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Makinde meets Buhari, demands more Mobile Police Squadrons in Oyo

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Oyo state governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde on Wednesday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the security situation in the state, just as he reechoed that his administration remains resolute about fighting bandits, hoodlums, armed robbers and kidnappers.

Governor Makinde, who addressed State House Correspondents in Abuja, the nation’s capital insisted that the real enemies of the state are the criminal elements.

While requesting for more Mobile Police Squadrons to be deployed to Oyo, the governor equally sought for greater synergy between the state and the federal security agencies, noting that collaborations are required for the state’s security plans to work effectively.

Makinde told the newsmen that he was in Abuja to brief the President on the security situation in Oyo.

“I came to brief the President on the security situation in Oyo State. There has been a lot of fake news all around and I wanted to be sure that the President clearly has first-hand information from me, which I did.

“We also exchanged ideas about what we need to do better; some of the programmes we have put in place to ensure that this security issue is tackled. So, that’s basically why I came here.

“The issue that I discussed with Mr. President is the fact that Oyo State landmass is quite big. Oyo State is close to 29,000 square kilometres. And the state right now only has two Mobile Police Squadrons.

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“So, I requested for more Mobile Police Squadrons to be deployed to Oyo State and also asked for support for the joint security outfit because the underlying issue here also has to do with limited opportunities. The tension will definitely go down if a lot of our youths are gainfully employed. So, I briefed the President on what we are doing in that regard.

“We have a history of living together peacefully among all the ethnic groups that are present in Oyo State. For instance, what triggered all of these was that Dr. Aborode was brutally murdered; that is criminal. But on the other hand, the Seriki, Alhaji Kabir, has been staying in that same place for 40 years. So, quite frankly, the people we are after are criminals – they are the bandits, hoodlums, armed robbers, kidnappers. Those are the true enemies of the state and those are the people we will go after.

“The Constitution of Nigeria guarantees that you can live in any part of Nigeria. You just have to be law-abiding and obey the local laws in such areas. That is what we are pushing and will continue to push as a government”, Governor Makinde said.

 

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‘I can’t be blackmailed, no more business as usual’ – FCC boss, Dankaka spits fire

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The Executive Chairman, Federal Character Commission (FCC), Dr Muheeba Dankaka, has said nobody can blackmail her over sponsored false and fabricated stories to smear the Commission and her name, in her quest to return sanity to the system.

Dankaka also warned the purveyors of the fake news to get used to ‘no more business as usual’ as indeed the Commission has entered a new dispensation.

According to her, the Commissioners cannot work in isolation, stressing that the Directors and Career officers will join in the smooth operation of the Commission

The FCC boss, in a statement released on Tuesday and made available to newsmen in Abuja, by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs & Communication, Dipo Akinsola, disclosed that no fewer than thirty commissioners are currently working in harmony to bring positive changes. She added that under her watch, the Commission has recorded successes in all areas and centralized the administrative structure of the monitoring and enforcement department.

The statement reads, “My attention has been drawn to a social media report in circulation in which it is alleged that some commissioners accused me of holding them to ransom by taking over their jobs and giving same to Directors with impunity. Over 30 Honourable Commissioners are currently working in harmony with me in bringing positive changes.

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“Five of the Commissioners are fighting for their personal and selfish interests; they want business as usual in the Commission which is not possible under my watch. The contents of the publication are false and mere fabricated stories to dent my image and that of the commission through social media.”

Dankaka, in the statement, also revealed that the monthly monitoring allowance of Commissioners has been embedded into their monthly salaries as approved by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFAC).

“These allegations are not true in all areas. We assumed office during the peak of the terrifying COVID-19 which slows down the operation of government generally.

“We thank God that there is an improvement in the allocation to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari, once the implementation of the year’s budget commences, there will be an improvement in the activities of the commission”, Dankaka assured.

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