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 Controversy as evacuees, Nigerian Ambassador argue over payment for COVID :19 test

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Controversy is trailing claims by Nigerian evacuees that they were made to pay for COVID-19 tests and hotel accommodation by the Nigerian authorities.

But the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in a tweet said the Ambassador to Cotonou denied knowledge of the evacuees making payments for the COVID-19 test.

The evacuees from Berlin, and Rome were as at the time of filing this report on isolation in Cotonou, the Benin Republic capital.

The Nigerian government, through the Foreign Affairs Minister,  Geoffrey Onyema, had earlier said the  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission (NNPC) would bear the cost of quarantine, accommodation and feeding for the citizens returning to the country from abroad.  The Minister said this during the presidential task force on COVID-19 briefing. He said the two government agencies were approached for funds for the accommodation and feeding of the Nigerian evacuees during their two-week isolation.

One of the evacuees, Akim Abubakar (@akimabubakar) tweeting at the Foreign Affairs Minister,  said: “Sir ,we paid €153 each for the covid test & passports seized. Paid another 40,000 CFA each for hotel. Thanks to the Ambassador in Cotonou who sent us food and promised to facilitate our departure /refunds for test. Also thanks to the embassy at Berlin for cash assistance.”

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Also tweeting at the Foreign Affairs Minister, an evacuee from Rome, Akindele Abiola @AbiolaOyeboade, said: “I also came in to Cotonou from Rome through Paris, and I was made to compulsorily pay €153 from my personal pocket. Thereafter, my passport was collected with that of other Nigerians from Berlin.

“We had to pay 40,000cfa for accommodation for two nights and still we haven’t gotten our passport. I must acknowledge that the Nigerian embassy here in Benin has been actively in touch with us since yesterday, they even brought us food yesterday night.”

Showing concern for the evacuees, God’s favourite daughter @Eboonee said:

“My belief is that the Nigeria Ambassador to Cotonou and its officials should have been on ground to receive the returnee’s,so they don’t have to go through the stress of payment and their passport being seized by the Cotonou immigration officials.”

Commenting on the plight of the evacuees, Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama said:“In regards to the situation of Nigerians who arrived Cotonou, Benin Republic, and taken to a hotel for quarantine and asked to pay for test:

“I was in touch with our Ambassador in Cotonou and he has informed me that there are 8 Nigerians who arrived from Berlin and he has contacted the Benin Government and the evacuees. He is making arrangements to transport them to Nigeria. He is not aware of any payment for tests.

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“I have been in touch with the Comptroller General of @nigimmigration

, Muhammad Babandede, and he has assured me that he has given directives to the border officials to make the appropriate arrangements for the evacuees.”

 

Giving update on evacuees in quarantine, the minister said: “We are coming to the end of the 14-day quarantine for the first and second batches of Nigerian evacuees. Some of them need to travel across state lines to get home.

 

“I spoke to the Inspector General of  @PoliceNG, Mohammed A. Adamu, and he has directed Commissioners of Police in Abuja and Lagos to give the evacuees personalised passes for travel.

We have evacuated 4 batches so far, the first batch from the UAE, second batch from the UK, third batch is from the US and the fourth batch from Saudi Arabia.

“There are many Nigerians all over the world who still want to come home and we are doing everything we can to bring them. There are Nigerians in India, China, South Africa, Sudan, UK, US, France and so on. I urge you all to continue to bear with us, be patient, because the reality is that we can only process a certain number at any given time.

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“All the different facilities that are required to be in place, human resources as well are limited. It really pains us to know and see that there are Nigerians out there who are really desperate and going through difficult times needing and wanting to come home.

So we will continue to do everything possible to bring them back home as quickly as possible.

 

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Displaced Yemen children at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity  

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The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Malnutrition analysis released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners is extremely concerning. With limited access to food, humanitarian services and health care, displaced children in Yemen are at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity.

Around 26 per cent of the more than 156,000 people newly displaced this year, in the areas where the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has access, cited food as their main need. This is the second most cited need after shelter and housing, which 65 per cent of people reported as their main need. In areas where there are higher levels of displacement, like Al Hudaydah, Taizz, Al Dhale’e and Marib, higher levels of food needs have also been reported.

“Displaced Yemenis leave their homes with nothing and often find themselves seeking safety in locations where there are no job opportunities and barely enough services, including health care,” said Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Chief of Mission for Yemen.

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“This can leave vulnerable people without enough food to feed their families. Given that UN partners are reporting that acute malnutrition rates among children under five are the highest ever recorded in parts of Yemen, we are extremely worried about children in displaced families.”

The situation in Marib is particularly concerning given that an escalation in hostilities has displaced over 90,000 people to the city and caused a drastic shortage of services. Displaced people in Marib report food to be one of their most urgent needs. Of the displacement sites assessed by IOM in October, some reported that food shortages were a major concern for approximately 50 per cent of their residents.

In response to food insecurity, the emergency aid kits distributed under the Rapid Response Mechanism by IOM to newly displaced families include emergency food rations. IOM also carries out livelihood support activities for displaced communities to help them generate income. Most recently the Organization supported displaced women in making face masks which help their community combat the spread of COVID-19.

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IOM also operates a health centre in Al Jufainah Camp, Yemen’s largest displacement site, and multiple mobile health clinics. In addition to providing primary health care services to over 55 per cent of displaced people in Marib, IOM’s mobile health clinics provide community level access to malnutrition screening for children under the age of five and referral for treatment, in coordination with UNICEF. Given the high demand for such nutritional support, early intervention is vital to reducing avoidable morbidity and mortality among displaced children.

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Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

Nigerians resident in Spain have kicked against bad governance and brutalitalisation of innocent citizens by security operatives in Nigeria.

They are in solidarity with the #Endsars protesters.

The #Endsars protest  started by young Nigerians to say no to brutality, impunity and gruesome killings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the government in the country saw security operatives using live bullets on the protesters last week, October 21, 2020.

In a statement signed by Afolabi Oloko, the Nigerians in Spain said: “In every part  of the world, including Nigeria, we believe protesting is a fundamental right of all citizenry that we can exercise whenever we deem it fit as long as it is civil and devoid of violence but such is not the case in Nigeria where the young future of the country are murdered by their very own government just because they made demands that there must be a reform to the notorious Police department and that the country be reformed in general. Have they asked for too much from a responsible and responsive government?

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“It is so disheartening that after Ten days that the youth refused to back down they resorted to killing, maiming of their own future generations just because they asked and begged for good governance and good policing. It’s a shame that young people are being killed all around the cities of Nigeria from Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo , Benin, Porthacort just to mention a few. It was horrendous seeing over seventy people being murdered at night while still protesting unarmed peacefully in Lekki area of Lagos state. They organised by switching off the street light while they carried out their evil deed against defenceless young people of the country and also took away the CCTV. The commander-in-chief of the Armed forces in person of President Muhamodu Buhari must be tried at the International court for genocide against it’s own people.

“We the compatriots far away in Spain are with our young brothers and sister on the streets saying no to bad governance as you’re in our hearts and prayers. We support you in the just cause you’re are fighting. Fighting for one’s future should not be seen as an affront to the authorities, rather they should look inward and realise that the system is rotten and should be cleansed but not killing innocent young men on the streets with Army being deployed to take lives of vibrant and resourceful, frustrated and change hungry citizens.
“Today, we came out in multitude in solidarity with our compatriots back home to say #ENDSARS! #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #ENDCORUPTION #ENDTHEGENOCIDE”

READ  COVID-19: Thousands of irregular migrants face severe humanitarian challenge - Group

 

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

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DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

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A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

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