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United Nations Nigeria Mourns Fallen Colleagues in Gaza

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United Nations Nigeria Mourns Fallen Colleagues in Gaza

By: Michael Mike

Staff members of the United Nations in Nigeria on Monday joined their counterparts across all duty stations in the world to observe a minute of silence in memory of the UN staff who tragically lost their lives in the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza.

Acting UN Resident Coordinator, and Resident Representative of UNDP, Mohamed Yahya, said at a brief ceremony marked with the UN flag lowered at half-mast, at the UN House Abuja that: “It is with great sadness that we join all UN personnel around the world in all duty stations to observe a minute of silence today, Monday 13 November, 2023 to mourn and honor our colleagues who were killed in Gaza.

“As you can see, the UN flag has been lowered to half-mast as a mark of respect on this solemn occasion. “I would like to request all of us to observe a minute of silence as we honor our fallen colleagues.”

He further urged all staff members to participate in the solemn observance, emphasising the importance of honouring the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to humanity.

According to a statement, in compliance, a minute of silence was also observed by 86 staff members participating in the UN Nigeria Programme Management Team retreat taking place in Niger State. At exactly 1.30 p.m, participants at the retreat rose to observe a minute of silence in honour of fallen colleagues in Gaza.

Following the moment of silence, Yahya concluded his message with a heartfelt wish: “May their souls rest in peace.”

Slightly over 100 UN staff of members have been killed so far in the ongoing war in Gaza.

United Nations Nigeria Mourns Fallen Colleagues in Gaza

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France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

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France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

By: Michael Mike

France has denied media reports that it has clandestinely deployed troops in Benin Republic as part of plans to counter the junta government in Niger Republic.

A Nigerian newspaper in an article entitled ‘French Military Transport Plane Drops Off French Soldiers in Benin Republic’, alleged that France took the measures following the expulsion of its troops from Niger Republic.

The report in itself is a follow-up to allegations by the military junta in Niamey that France has set up a military base in Benin to also enforce the continued border closures between the two neighbouring West African countries.

In response, the French Embassy in Nigeria described the report as baseless, unfounded and part of the growing disinformation aimed to sustain the growing anti-French sentiment.

The statement read: “The French Embassy wishes to inform the public that the aircraft mentioned in this article is not a French military aircraft, nor has it connections to France. Furthermore, Beninese and French authorities have denied the existence of French military bases or of plans to establish French military bases in Benin at multiple occasions in the last months, in the context of growing disinformation campaigns on that topic.

“In every country, French security and defense cooperation is based on a partnership of equals and full respect for sovereignty. Any action or programme is carried out with the full agreement of relevant authorities. We remain available to answer questions from journalists and hope Leadership will take these clarifications into consideration.”

Also speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior officer of the French Embassy, noted: “I don’t need to tell you that most of the information in this article is fake. We have no military bases in Benin. Our cooperation with Benin is not hidden but explained in detail on our Embassy website (https://bj.ambafrance.org/-Cooperation-de-defense-), so if we were trying to hide it, we would be doing a terrible job… As all French military cooperation, it is based on request from the partner country and done with the utmost respect for its sovereignty.

“And finally, of course, Niamey authorities have never demonstrated the ineffectiveness of military cooperation with France: cooperation was working very well before the July 2023 coup and giving good results. Accusing us of training terrorists, as the current Nigerien Prime Minister is doing, is so ridiculous. I can’t even understand why the media would report on that without disproving it.”

Earlier, the Beninoise government Spokesperson, Mr. Wilfried Houngbédji, refuted the alleged presence of French military operations which would justify the continued closure of Niger’s border with Benin.

He iinvited the junta leader, General Tiani as well as independent media from Niger to come and see on site the absence of such bases.

He said: “A military base is not a needle in a haystack after all! The Prime Minister can deploy the satellite resources he wants with his current military allies to check if we have a military base.”

Houngbédji also made the distinction between “Fortified Forward Points” and military bases, affirming that Benin has several military camps intended to ensure national security and fight against terrorism.

He stressed that these installations are known to everyone, and that others are planned to be built, particularly in border communities.

“Now, if he talks about our Fortified Forward Points, our small military camps that we have built to secure our country and fight against terrorism, that’s something else. We are making them and today we have around twenty of them and there are others planned to be made. There are some in our border communes in particular and the Head of State spoke about it about two years ago in a message on the state of the Nation; it’s known to everyone ,” clarified Houngbédji.

He noted that the Beninoise Government has invited General Tiani to send the independent media to verify their claims. “They should come and see if there is a base here ,” he challenged.

France denies secret deployment of troops in Benin against Niger

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Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

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Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

By: Michael Mike

Latest statistics has shown that Nigeria and European Union trade volume has grown to €45 billion.

The statistics showed that this was the case as at September 2023, even as the
United Nations COMTRADE database indicated that Nigeria remains EU largest trade partner, accounting for 20.9% of Nigeria’s global trade.

The EU is made up of 28 European countries, though there are 50 countries considered European.

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu during the celebration of 2024 European Day in Abuja on Thursday night said the value of trade between Nigeria and the EU has increased consistently, demonstrating the
potential for even greater collaboration.

Kalu while disclosing that Nigeria is prepared to provide an encouraging environment for investment, said: “The European Union is one of our most significant trading partners, and our economic ties have grown steadily.

“The value of trade between Nigeria and the EU has increased consistently, demonstrating the potential for even greater collaboration.”

Kalu while quoting the United Nations COMTRADE database, added that “as of September 2023, the EU’s bilateral trade with Nigeria has surpassed €45 billion.

“The EU is Nigeria’s largest trading partner, accounting for 20.9% of Nigeria’s
global trade.”

He assured EU that: “As we look to the future, Nigeria is committed to engendering an environment encouraging investment and trade with our European
partners.

“We recognize the vital role that
European businesses play in our economic development, and we welcome
continued investment in ourindustries, infrastructure, and technology
sectors.”

He equally, commended the cultural exchange between both parties, saying “Europe is a source of rich history, art, and
innovation, while Nigeria is a vibrant hub of diverse cultures and traditions.

“By having cultural exchanges, we build bridges of understanding that
transcend geographical boundaries.

“I am pleased to see that more
European cultural events are being held in Nigeria and that Nigerian
artists, musicians, and scholars are gaining recognition in Europe.

“These exchanges contribute to a more harmonious and interconnected world.”

The Deputy Speaker also commended the EU for it support to the country, especially in the area of education, healthcare,
digital economy, agriculture, security, and governance.

He noted that: “The European Union (EU) is supporting Nigeria’s digital transformation with a €820 million
investment through its Global Gateway initiative.

“This investment includes €160million in grants and €660million in loans.

“The EU is also supporting
Nigeria’s digital future through the AU-EUD4D Hub, a project that helps
African institutions create an enabling environment for a sustainable digital
transformation.

“Further more, the European Union has initiated several projects aimed at
promoting climate-smart agriculture and advancing Nigeria’s green transition.

“The GENESII: Mobility for Plant Genomics Scholars to Accelerate Climate-Smart Adaptation Options and Food Security in Africa II, is designed to foster academic exchange and research in plant
genomics, enhancing Africa’s adaptation to climate change and promoting
food security.

“The Small Hydro Power Development for Agro-industry Use (SHP-DAIN) project promotes the use of small-scale hydro power to boost agro-industrial production.”

He stressed that the EU’s commitment to the Climate-Smart Agriculture for Development Programme “underlines its support for climate-smart, innovative agriculture with an improved agribusiness climate and equitable participation of women and youth.”

He also said: “Beyond these projects,
the EU has also demonstrated its commitment to security and peace in the
Lake Chad region, mobilizing €2.5 billion since 2014 to support stabilization, peace, and security initiatives.

“This extensive support highlights the EU’s dedication to sustainable development and enhancing the quality of life for Nigerians”.

Kalu said: “As the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, I believe in the importance of strengthening our democratic institutions and promoting
good governance.

“Europe has been a valuable partner in this regard, offering support and guidance as we work to uphold the principles of
democracy and the rule of law.”

In her remarks, Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi said Nigeria remains a strategic partner to EU.

Isopi said EU cooperation with Nigeria tops global rankings whether in the energy and climate, digital, innovation, health or entrepreneurship areas.

She also said EU is targeting critical private and public investment in Nigeria.

Isopi also assured Nigeria of EU support in the efforts at ensuring democratic rules in the West African region.

She noted that: “A year ago, we met to celebrate Europe Day on the eve of the inauguration of the new administration in Nigeria and the start of a new chapter in our partnership. Since then, the joint visit of EU International Partnerships and Energy Commissioners, Jutta Urpilainen and Kadri Simpson, in October last year for the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue, positioned Nigeria as a primary partner for the European Union.

“By now, EU cooperation with Nigeria tops global rankings whether in the energy and climate, digital, innovation, health or entrepreneurship areas. This is further amplified by our joint work with EU Member States and EU financial institutions (such as the European Investment Bank) as Team Europe, which combines our strengths across most areas of cooperation.

“In line with the Global Gateway strategy, EU cooperation is now targeting critical public and private investments, thereby providing the necessary instruments to make such investments viable and sustainable. In the health sector, besides continuous support to public actors at federal and state level, our support includes the mobilisation of public and private sectors investors towards increased local manufacturing of vaccines and other health products. “

On the coming Nigeria/EU Business Forum on July 2nd in Abuja, Isopi said it will bear witness to progress made and raise our ambition for the years to come.”

Adding, “As we increasingly focus on investments, our support to migration, governance, peace and security will continue unabated. This support reflects the fundamental values and challenges that bind the EU and Nigeria, such as the rule of law, democratic governance and protection of fundamental rights.

“In that regard, we believe that the position – and empowerment – of women and youth in today’s Nigeria deserves our collective attention. “

On the political front, the envoy said “While working with the National Assembly, Government at Federal and State level, we remain strong advocate and supporters of the need for a vibrant civil society, which provides a unique opportunity to promote change and accountability.

“Since we last met to celebrate Europe day, West Africa has gone through one of the most difficult times in its history.

“The EU continues to stand by Nigeria, by its regional partners and by ECOWAS and remains committed to supporting the region in building a community for the people.”

Nigeria/EU trade volume hits €45b

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Gaza: 155,000 Pregnant Women Struggling to Survive- Says Palestine Envoy

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Gaza: 155,000 Pregnant Women Struggling to Survive- Says Palestine Envoy

By: Michael Mike

Ambassador of Palestine to Nigeria, Abdullah Shawesh has drawn global attention to emerging humanitarian crisis in war torn Gaza, stating that around 155,000 pregnant women and new mothers are struggling to survive.

He said: “They are suffering from hunger and the diseases that stalk it, amid life-threatening shortages of food, water and medical care …. Only three maternity hospitals remain in the Gaza Strip, and they are overwhelmed with patients.

“Doctors and midwives … are struggling to provide adequate care to newborns.”

Addressing a press conference at the weekend on the situation in Gaza, Shawesh lamented that mass graves continued to be discovered on Gaza Strip, with the war currently leaving an estimated 37 million tons of debris and unexploded ordnance.

He decried that as it stands, the war is projected could take 14 years to clear the unexploded ordnance and rubble.

Shawesh said: “As of May 1, the number of Palestinian martyrs has reached 34,535, with 77,704 wounded, in addition to thousands of others who are still missing under the rubble or subjected to enforced disappearance in Israeli occupation detention centers.”

He alleged that “Palestinian detainees are subjected to harsh measures, receiving minimal sustenance such as a single slice of bread and a small amount of food to merely sustain their lives and prevent death, resulting in substantial weight loss and serious health consequences.”

“Around 155,000 pregnant women and new mothers are struggling to survive. They are suffering from hunger and the diseases that stalk it, amid life-threatening shortages of food, water and medical care …. Only three maternity hospitals remain in the Gaza Strip, and they are overwhelmed with patients.

He noted that: “The Palestinian Minister of Transport, Tariq Zourub, declared that the losses of the transportation sector in the Gaza Strip exceeded 3 billion dollars. The occupation destroyed about 945 km of roads and 55,000 vehicles, which is equivalent to 65% of the road network and 60% of the vehicles licensed in the strip.
Day after day, Israeli crimes in Gaza are revealed, and every day we witness a new chapter of genocidal crimes.”

He added that: “Recently, many mass graves were discovered in the Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the Nasser Medical Complex in the Gaza Strip, which contain hundreds of dead bodies.”

Gaza: 155,000 Pregnant Women Struggling to Survive- Says Palestine Envoy

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