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UNGA 76: Buhari talks debt cancelation, COVID-19, terrorism

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President Muhammad Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in New York, appealed to rich nations and international financial institutions for outright debt cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that had ravaged economies globally.

In his speech at the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, Buhari, particularly urged G20 countries to extend their debt suspension initiatives to all developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing states facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.

‘‘Developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic.

‘‘The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments, at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs.

‘‘I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.

‘‘Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the debt service suspension initiative to include all developing, least developed countries and small island developing states facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.

‘‘In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges’’, Buhari told world leaders at the assembly.

The Nigerian leader called for reforms of international trade that would engender recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, build resilience to future shocks and pursue transformative development strategies that can deliver the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals .

‘‘Nigeria reaffirms that international trade is an engine for development and sustained economic growth, as well as the global eradication of poverty.

‘‘My delegation would like to reaffirm the critical role that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system can play in stimulating economic growth and development.

‘‘Fair and equitable trade would eventually eliminate the need for aid.

‘‘My country and indeed all African countries do not intend to stay indefinitely looking for aid. All we need is a fair and equitable system of international trade,’’ he said.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the President also used the occasion of the speech to renew his advocacy for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, outlining steps Nigeria had taken to achieve ‘‘moderate success’’ in containing the virus and halt its deadly onslaught in the country.

He added: ‘‘Nigeria remains grateful for the assistance received from our partners and friends all over the world. Vaccination is the key to our safe emergence from the pandemic.

‘‘We fully support the COVAX initiative from which we have benefitted. We also thank the United States of America, Turkey, India, China, European Union, and others for the vaccines provided.

‘‘Despite the acknowledgement, however, I would like to reiterate my call for a fairer and more equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries so that, together, we can fight and contain the pandemic.

‘‘The rising wave of newer and more contagious strains, makes this even more urgent. No country can afford the socio-economic implications of prolonged shutdown. It is imperative to underscore that no one is safe until everyone is safe.’’

He said Nigeria had intervened to halt the pandemic, adding, “at the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus.

‘‘In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centres today.

‘‘Similarly, we built isolation centres and emergency hospital wards in record time all over the country. We carry out genomic sequencing in designated laboratories across the country with a view to detecting variants in circulation.

‘‘In addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on Infection, Prevention and Control measures with the support of various partners.

‘‘Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centres located within our Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres”, he said.

On terrorism, Buhari told the UN General Assembly that Nigeria’s security forces had recorded considerable success in the fight against terrorism.

‘‘As a result of the renewed vigour of Nigeria’s military, many terrorist fighters are voluntarily surrendering to our security forces,’’ he said.

The President noted that while terrorism continued to dominate security discourse worldwide, in Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists group, though fragmented by internal strife and weakened by our defence forces, is still active and preying on soft targets.

‘‘Nigeria will continue to work closely with the UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and entities with a view to bringing this scourge to an end, ’’ he added.

The country would spare no effort in addressing the challenges of terrorism posed by the activities of Boko Haram in North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, as well as banditry in the North-West and North-Central Nigeria, the President said.

‘‘I and three other Nigerian Heads of State served actively as peace keepers and Nigeria continues to support peacekeeping efforts. We know the sacrifice involved; we also know how important peacekeeping is for those in vulnerable situations.

‘‘Nigeria will continue to play its part fully in supporting UN peacekeeping operations within Africa and beyond,’’ he said.

 

 

(NAN)

 

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UN Secretary-General visits Buhari At State House

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio
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The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday paid visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.

He was received by top government officials.

Buhari’s conversation with Guterres centred on the need to ensure peaceful and democratic elections as well as the robust participation of women and young people in all areas.

President Buhari also thanked the UN boss for the visit, stressing that it came at a time when the world is focussing on the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Buhari also believes that the visit underscores the assurance that the world is with Nigeria.

On his part, the UN scribe called for developed nations to ramp up vaccine support to countries in the global north, halt the asymmetrical distribution and reform the global financial system.

Earlier in the day, he visited the UN House in Abuja alongside some top officials and diplomats of the agency.

Guterres is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such.

The UN chief had arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and also visited Borno State where he proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists. This, he said, is key to the restoration of peace in the North East region.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he told a gathering at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

The UN scribe is also expected to perform the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack victims.

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Ukraine : UN Agencies Condemn Attacks On Health Care Facilities

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UN agencies on Sunday called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to attacks on healthcare professionals and facilities in Ukraine, describing such incidents as acts of “unconscionable cruelty”.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care (SSA), the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

“To attack the most vulnerable -– babies, children, pregnant women and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives –- is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” they said, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In 24 of the reported attacks, health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in five cases ambulances were hit. A total of 12 people were killed and 34 injured, according to the UN agencies’ statement.

“Humanitarian partners and health care workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, including immunisation against Covid-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees crossing into neighbouring countries,” said the statement, signed by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, UNFPA counterpart Natalia Kanem and WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack Wednesday on a children’s hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.

According to the United Nations’ reproductive health agency two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals had already been attacked and destroyed before that strike.

“Attacks on health care and health workers directly impact people’s ability to access essential health services -– especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,” the UN agency chiefs said in their statement on Sunday.

“We have already seen that the health care needs of pregnant women, new mothers, younger children and older people inside Ukraine are rising, while access to services is being severely limited by the violence,” the statement added.

Oxygen and medical supplies, including for the management of pregnancy complications, are running dangerously low, they warned.

“The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening,” the UN agencies warned.

“We call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.”

AFP

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Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korea’s presidential election

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Yoon Suk Yeol
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Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor, has been elected South Korea’s new president, defeating his chief liberal rival in one of the country’s most closely fought presidential elections.

With more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, Yoon had 48.6 percent of the votes against his rival Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8 percent.

Yoon said on Thursday that he would honour the constitution and the parliament and work with opposition parties when he takes office as the country’s next leader, calling the election result a “victory of the great people”.

“Our competition is over for now,” he said in an acceptance speech, thanking and consoling Lee and other rivals.

“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”

At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon said he would put top priority on “national unity,” adding all people should be treated equally regardless of their regional, political and socioeconomic differences.

“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he said.

Yoon is to take office in May and serve a single five-year term as leader of the world’s 10th-largest economy.

 

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