AU urges action to reduce impact of disasters in Africa

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…As Official at UN says Nigeria deeply committed to rule of law***

The African Union (AU) reiterated on Friday that African governments and stakeholders must take actions in implementing policies to reduce negative impacts of disasters on the African continent.

The AU made the call on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), observed every year on Oct. in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The commemoration session held under the theme, “Home Safe Home, Reducing Exposure, and Reducing Displacement,” noted that Africa has continued to remain the continent most vulnerable to hazards.

In her remarks, Amira El-Fadil, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, underlined the need to take actions in implementing risk reduction policies towards reducing the number of people affected by the natural and human-induced hazards.

She said: “in Africa, we have abundance of polices and decisions yet to continue to remain the most vulnerable continent to hazards.

“This commemoration comes as yet another wake-up call to the African governments and all the stakeholders to take actions that we see those policies being implemented.”

The most hazard-prone countries in Africa, based on past frequencies and analysis of disaster risk indexes, are Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Uganda.

Also speaking, Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner for National Disaster Risk Management, said that .
inspite of Ethiopia’s impressive economic growth over the past couple of decades, natural disaster remains one of the biggest challenges facing the East African country,

Kassa said that millions of people have negatively affected by disasters in the Horn of Africa region, the Commissioner reiterated that more than eight million of people are affected by climate change-induced drought in Ethiopia.

He also stated that Ethiopia has been implementing policies and programs to deliver on commitment to prevent and reduce disaster risks in the country.

The UN General Assembly designated Oct. 13 as IDDR to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

The world body said between the years 1985 and 2015, losses in Africa range from 3.5 billion U.S. dollars to 22 billion dollars.

A total of 2,147 natural hazards recorded in those three decades, with more than 210,000 losses in human lives, close to 190,000 people injured, around 400 million people needing immediate assistance and about eight million people homeless, among other undocumented impacts of hazards.

Since the year 2000, sub-Saharan Africa has recorded an average of two disasters per week, affecting around 12.5 million people every year.

In August 2017, the African continent witnessed severe flooding and mudslide that killed 499 people and left close to 600 people missing and more than 1,000 people injured in Sierra Leone.

UN says more than 150 people also died and many others left injured and homeless due to landslide in the DR Congo.

In the meantime, Nigeria has assured the international community that it is deeply committed to the concept of rule of law as enshrined in the constitution of the country.

The Acting Director, International Organisations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Richard Adedoja, stated this at the UN headquarters in New York while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels’.

Mr. Adedoja said: “In Nigeria, the rule of law is a fundamental article in our national jurisprudence and it is a pivotal principle that guides the process of governance.

“We are deeply committed to it. We promote it relentlessly and we have continuously advocated for it at the national, regional and international levels.

“Nigeria remains committed to a process of governance that is firmly anchored on democratic principles.

“We consider the rule of law as a fundamental prerequisite to the establishment of justice and as a basis for peaceful coexistence and the prevention of armed conflict,” he said.

He said the National Human Rights Commission was established to create an enabling environment for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights.

He said the establishment of the Commission was in furtherance of the promotion of and adherence to the principles of rule of law in the country.

“In addition, the works of the various anti-corruption agencies are meant to ensure that ‘due process’ is always observed and to grant access to justice for all.

“Only few days ago, the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed heads of court to immediately set up what could pass for separate courts to try people accused of financial crimes.

“This is firmly rooted in the understanding that the rule of law must be strictly observed in the administration of justice,” he said.

Mr. Adedoja noted the UN Secretary-General’s Report that recognised that the rule of law as critical in efforts to build and sustain peace, as an enabling factor in the prevention of conflict.

According to him, respect for the rule of law is necessary for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and for the overall protection and promotion of human rights.

Undoubtedly, the rule of law must also focus on addressing issues such as climate change, migration, and violence against women and girls, he said.

“The adherence to and respect for the principle of rule of law must reinforce our collective responses to global issues.

“Indeed, all responses to global challenges, including climate change, environmental challenges as well as conflict across the world, must be based on the rule of law.

“These include issues pertaining to good governance, democratic practice, accountability, fight against impunity, protection of civilians in armed conflict, women and children.

“In addition, terrorism and transnational crimes, and a host of other subjects have intrinsic to them respect for and observance of the rule of law,” he said.

Mr. Adedoja reaffirmed Nigeria’s delegation support to the Declaration adopted at the General Assembly’s 2012 High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law.

He underlined the need for national ownership in every effort aimed at strengthening national capacities of Member States in the promotion of the rule of law as well as in providing technical assistance and capacity-building towards that end.

“We call on UN Member States to renew their commitment to respect and defend the UN Charter as a means of promoting international law and strengthening the rule of law.

“We should collectively work to attain a world where the rule of law, accountability and social justice are the foundation for sustainable development and durable peace.

“This must be a priority for the international community, for world leaders and for all peoples,” he said.

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