UN agencies expressed deep concern on Friday about serious and ongoing abuses carried out against displaced civilians facing food insecurity in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, after months of conflict.
In an alert, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said it was aware of gross violations, including gender-based violence in the war-torn north.
“The situation of women and adolescent girls in Tigray and border areas of Amhara and Afar remains dire.
“We see alarming levels of sexual violence, and thousands of women lack access to health and protection services,” said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.
In a related development, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugee Agency (UNHCR) condemned the reported abduction of at least several hundred youths from camps for displaced people in Tigray earlier this week.
This echoed prior comments by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia, Catherine Sozi, who condemned the reported arbitrary arrests, beatings and ill-treatment by soldiers of more than 200 people during night-time military raids on internal displacement camps in the region on Monday.
Sozi noted that the affected sites of Tsehaye and Adi Wonfito in Shire town were home to 12,000 internally displaced persons in total.
“The situation is traumatic and distressing, not only for the relatives of the missing, but for all the displaced communities residing in Shire,” she said.
Meanwhile, UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch at a news conference said the agency was in contact with the Ethiopian authorities on the issue.
“It is crucial that all parties to the conflict recognise the civilian and humanitarian character of these sites hosting displaced people.”
Fighting began in Tigray on 4 November, 2020 between national Government forces and regional power brokers loyal to the former national ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Some parts of the war-torn region have remained accessible but overall, “grave” needs are outstripping capacity, with most rural areas “cut from communications and electricity”, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (NAN).
Okonjo-Iweala ‘Less Optimistic’ About World Trade In 2024
The World Trade Organization’s chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said she was “less optimistic” about world trade in 2024, pointing to tensions in the Red Sea.She said weaker global economic growth, “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal” meant “we are less optimistic”.
Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos where political and economic elites are meeting to discuss global challenges.
Before the massive Hamas attack on Israel in October and the subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza, the WTO had predicted trade would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2023 and projected growth of 3.3 per cent this year.
But Okonjo-Iweala warned the figure for 2024 would now be lower in future forecasts.
“We think there are a lot of downside risks to the forecasts we had made last year of 3.3 percent of growth of merchandise volumes this year. So we expect weaker performance,” she said.
“We will be revising estimates for this year, but they won’t be ready for another month or so,” Okonjo-Iweala added.
A spate of attacks by Yemeni rebels on Red Sea shipping has disrupted the vital trade route while the worst drought in decades to hit the Panama Canal has forced authorities to slow transits.
Yemen’s Huthi rebels say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
The attacks have, however, also caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal.
The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
More than 24,400 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.
Your Investments Are Safe In Nigeria, Tinubu Assures Saudi Investors
President Bola Tinubu on Friday assured potential investors that their investments are safe in Nigeria.
Speaking at the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Tinubu said Nigeria is ready for business while assuring investors of some of the world’s highest returns on investment.
“I also wish to assure all potential Saudi investors of the safety of their investments based on the sanctity of the rule of law and good returns on their investments in the largest economy in Africa,” the President was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale.
“In this regard, the benefit attached to the early inauguration of the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council can not be over-emphasized. Nigeria, like the Kingdom, is diversifying its economy away from oil dependence to promote sustainable development.
“My administration has undertaken bold economic reforms by removing wasteful subsidies on petroleum and the merging of our foreign exchange market, among other incentives aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”
Tinubu stated that Nigeria is desirous of enhancing collaboration with Saudi Arabia on combating terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other violent extremist groups which have been terrorising the Lake Chad and Sahel regions.
He said, “Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed a special relationship at both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Within the past six decades, our bilateral cooperation, which was initially hajj-centric, has witnessed diversification to cover a number of areas of common interest.
“It is delightful to note the presence in this great Kingdom of a large number of our compatriots and professionals, including highly skilled medical practitioners and professional football players.
“As members of several international organizations including the UN, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Forum, the G77, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Digital Cooperation Organization among others, our two nations have effectively used these and other platforms to enhance close interaction and coordination.”
The President expressed confidence that the countries’ joint positive disposition within those platforms would continue to be demonstrated “as we seek to advance our mutual interests”.
Further, he thanked the Middle-East nation for the various humanitarian interventions in Nigeria through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
Speaking on climate change and how it affects Africa, President Tinubu said climate change had led to an expedited rate of desertification and incessant flooding in Nigeria and many other countries of Africa.
He commended the efforts of the Kingdom for its various initiatives to fight the effects of climate change, adding that Nigeria is also working on a number of initiatives to fight the effects of climate change and energy poverty.
Niger coup pressures food markets in West Africa – World Bank
The World Bank says the coup d’état in Niger may put additional pressure on Nigeria and other West African nations’ food markets.
According to the global bank, “The Nigerien coup d’état puts an additional seven million people at risk of falling into severe food insecurity in the region against a backdrop of soaring commodity and staple food prices, and severe food insecurity already affecting 3.3 million people during the lean season.”
In its September ‘Food Security Update’, the bank stated that the coup d’état in Niger might put additional pressure on West African food markets.
The Washington-based bank stated that food prices increased by up to 21 per cent in August in Niger owing to the economic and financial sanctions the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union imposed on the country.
It noted that as a result, it limited poor households’ access to food and their ability to meet their dietary needs.
It stated that with the government’s limited financial capacity to implement its food assistance programme, continued provision of food aid by the World Food Programme remains essential, as access restrictions are hindering delivery of aid.
The report observed that FAO expects that shortages of seeds and feed and high fertilizer costs would affect the next agriculture season, exacerbating food insecurity, which is expected to persist beyond the lean season.
According to the Bank, Western and Central Africa were facing persistent food crises, with the number of people in need of food and nutritional assistance in the region rising from around 10.7 million in 2019, 29 million in 2021, to more than 40 million in 2022 and 2023.
The Bank said that between June and August 2023, 42.5 million people in Nigeria and other West African countries were in a food crisis or worse.
It added that the main factors affecting food security are civil insecurity and conflict, which have led to forced displacement, climatic shocks, political instability, adding that the war in Ukraine have increased the volatility of prices for foodstuffs and other commodities and caused widespread inflation as current food prices remain higher than during the same period last year.
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