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Boko Haram insurgency not over yet – UN



The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, on Thursday said despite the successes of the ongoing military counterinsurgency operations in North-east Nigeria, the Boko Haram war is not over yet.

Mrs. Mohammed, a former minister of environment in the Muhammadu Buhari administration, said the UN will this year assist the government to achieve more successes.

She made this statement during a courtesy call on the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, at the end of a two-day working visit to the state.

Commending the Borno government’s “speed” in the area of reconstruction of liberated communities earlier destroyed by the Boko Haram, the official promised more funding for the ongoing humanitarian intervention in the state.

“One of our main messages is that while Nigeria has really made huge efforts in containing its space and pushing back the insurgency, it is not over yet.

She said “a lot more needs to be invested in helping the military offensive and making sure they have the equipment, and in also ensuring they have a transition to a civilian administration that will comprise the civil defence, the police and all the necessary infrastructure while they are managing the conflict within their domain.”

She commended the governments of Nigeria and Borno State for the support accorded UN workers discharging their role in taking humanitarian assistance to those in need.

“We have been in Borno state for the last two days to see for ourselves what the government of Nigeria and the Borno state government, with the support of the UN system, has achieved in the last year or two,” she said.

She said the primary aim of her mission to the state was also acquaint herself with “what challenges have been solved and what are the gaps you (Borno government) need to address and to hear from those in the front-line, the humanitarian workers, our agencies, our programmers and some of the people working with state government, federal government programmers.”

The official, who was accompanied by top officials of various UN system, said she had visited the IDP camps, met with NGOs, and the international communities working in the state.

“We spoke with the theatre commander, those right on the front-line to understand better how we can address situation and access everyone so that we can save more lives.”

She said another important concern of the UN was “how we deal with maintaining the crisis and working towards reintegration all of those that are displaced back into their communities.”

She thanked the government of Borno State, especially “the leadership of His Excellency the governor of Borno state in really moving so fast.”

“The last time I was here which was a few years ago, there has been a speedy improvement in what has happened.

“Certainly more can be done and that’s why we are here. We are facing a number of challenges going forward; this is the season where activities can become more pronounced; everyone need to be re-enforced with their services to ensure that more communities are helped.”

She said Nigeria has “won the best result for coming with over $900,000; which we understand is well spent and we have seen the benefit of it.

“We will look forward to another opportunity to bring in more funds.”

She said the UN acknowledged the challenges of humanitarian activities during an election year in the country, and said her organisation looked forward to seeing the 2019 election being hitch-free.

“We know there are the challenges of upcoming elections which we like to be done in a peaceful manner, which is the right of every Nigerian and include the people of Borno State.”

Governor Shettima, in his response, thanked the UN Deputy Secretary General for visiting the state which he said was the fourth time.

“I must say that in all the times you come around, the people of Borno State have continued to benefit immensely from your visits. And even I as the chief executive of Borno State have continued to benefit on your versatile knowledge, your ruggedness even as a woman and your uncommon wisdom in the management of complex situations,” he said.

“You have worked with us as an honorary adviser before now and I must confess that it was a rare privilege for me to have been advised by a woman with a first class competence in every aspect of developmental leadership. You have contributed so much in shaping the priorities of Borno State Government,” said Mr. Shettima.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’



The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin



Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel



A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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