from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – UP to 12 million people are facing a hunger crisis in Southern Africa as a result of recurrent droughts.Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the nine countries included in the severely food insecurity figures.
Some of the countries in the region are experiencing their lowest rainfall since 1981 while others have endured the destruction of cyclones, pests and disease.
Rising humanitarian needs and increasing suffering have exacerbated protection concerns, particularly for women and children, and heightened the risk of transmission of HIV.
Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were all hit by the Cyclone Idai and/or Cyclone Kenneth weather systems.
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have all declared drought disasters.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that since 2012, Southern Africa had seen only two favourable agricultural seasons.
Increasing numbers of acutely malnourished children have been reported in parts of Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
OCHA warned that the risk of gender-based violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly for women and children, had risen due to disasters and food insecurity in the region.
Deteriorating economic prospects have exacerbated poverty and inequality and hampered access to essential services, including healthcare.
Drought, floods and diminishing access to clean water have increased the risk of communicable disease outbreaks.
– CAJ News
Akwa Ibom Corps Member Slaughters Boyfriend
A corps member identified as Princess Odume, was on Monday arrested by the Akwa Ibom police command for the murder of a yet-to-be-identified man.
The young woman, who is said to be a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, was stripped naked by neighbours of the victim who caught her trying to skip the fence with a machete.
The Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Ogbeche-Macdon confirmed the victim was the alleged murderer’s lover.
He also said, “The police are investigating. The police have her in custody, she committed the act, but as I speak, an investigation is ongoing as to how and why she did it.”
COVID-19 Claims the Life of a House on the Rock Pastor
A House On The Rock pastor, Adeyinka Akinbami(61), lost his life to COVID-19 on Friday, the 8th of January, 2021.
The Senior Pastor, of the church, Paul Adefarasin, urged Nigerians to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
“Yesterday (Friday), I received the rude and shocking news of someone deeply dear to me and all of the HOTR family. The passing of Pastor Yinka Akinbami has become most painful because if there truly were good men, he was certainly one. To my brother, sleep well till we meet to part no more.
“Family, kindly allow me to solicit your intercession for his dear wife of over 30 years; Pastor Tolu, his children, his children-in-law, and grandchildren. We can only at best imagine how much pain they are feeling. We share the pain of his loss but they will feel it a lot more.
“It’s important to remind the community about the deadly nature of the COVID-19 and its mutant virus strains. Please do your part by following all the recommended precautions. That way, you are able to protect yourself and others who become proximal to you. God bless and keep us all”, Adefarasin Tweeted.
Buhari Appointed by ECOWAS to Champion COVID-19 Response
President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has been appointed the mantle of the COVID-19 response leadership by presidents under the Economic Community of West African States.
A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said the appointment took place on Thursday, at the Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on COVID-19, which was held via teleconference under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.
During the teleconference, Buhari was said to have called on fellow ECOWAS leaders to look beyond the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and tap into various opportunities that it presents for the betterment of lives in member states.
Buhari was quoted as saying, “In every challenging situation such as the current one, there are also opportunities. Our region must therefore seek to find those opportunities provided by this gloomy global outlook for its benefit by embarking on the implementation of such critical policies, which, before now, will be difficult to accept.”
While calling on his colleagues to intensify collaboration to save the region from “this deadly pandemic through sharing our experiences and best practices,” Buhari outlined some measures taken by his regime in response to the pandemic.
They include reduction of interest rates on all applicable Central Bank of Nigeria interventions from nine per cent to five per cent and introduction of a one-year moratorium on CBN intervention facilities. The inauguration of a presidential task force to coordinate national efforts to combat the spread of the virus and ensure efficiency and effectiveness in line with the Nigerian Action Plan on Health Security.
The President also stated that unprecedented economic uncertainties, including severe fiscal and foreign exchange constraints, amid a slowdown in global economic growth that most nations are grappling with, had made it imperative for “our sub-region to refocus on accelerating the implementation of our popular vision of ‘ECOWAS of the people’ by adopting progressive regional policies aimed at providing relief to our citizens.”
Buhari added, “At a time of global uncertainty such as this, caused by the devastating impact of the COVID-19, let me convey Nigeria’s solidarity with all the member states as we collectively battle to defeat the pandemic.
“I am greatly saddened by the loss of numerous lives and extend my heartfelt condolences to families of those who have lost loved ones throughout the region. I also wish infected victims speedy and full recovery.”
COVID-19: AU on Nigeria’s Behalf Seeks Debt Relief
The African Union, Nigeria office, has urged China, France, Japan and India to write off Nigeria’s debt or allow two-year abeyance on repayments.
It commended the International Monetary Fund for granting relief to 25 nations under its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to tackle the novel coronavirus.
The AU agency’s Nigeria Representative, Oba Olasunkanmi, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, explained that as major lenders, they should also grant a reprieve to the Federal Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said, “Certainly, this will further assist the benefiting countries to significantly cushion the impact of the dreaded disease on their economies. Nigeria, at this time, needs support to enable it to recover from the financial impact.”
The AU further noted that it would be difficult for the nation to service the debts in the face of the economic realities imposed by COVID-19 “as the United Nations had projected that the world would need $1 trillion for continual existence.”
It noted, “Nigeria needs China’s support at this trying time, with the long and fruitful bilateral relationship between both countries which has led to Nigerian government owing China the debt of about $3.2 billion.
“We are faithful in payment of service charges. In 2019, Nigeria paid $138.8 million (N53.7billion) to EXIM Bank of China in settlement, the highest amount paid to any bilateral institution for the year.”
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