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Nigeria, Other West African Countries Facing Worst Food Crisis in 10 Years, Aid Groups Say



By Derrick Bangura

International aid agencies on Tuesday raised the alarm that the West African sub-region was currently facing its worst food crisis in a decade, with 27 million people currently going hungry.

In a damning statement, 11 major international organisations including Oxfam, ALIMA and Save the Children, among others, warned that the figure could even rise to 38 million by June.
The global aid groups warned that unless urgent action is taken, the increase would mark “a new historic level” and an increase by more than a third during last year.

The alert came a day ahead of a virtual conference on the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel and Lake Chad.

A recent report jointly anchored by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) had also warned that acute food insecurity was likely to deteriorate further in Nigeria and 19 other countries, particularly between February and May 2022.

The reality of hunger is also increasingly manifesting across parts of the continent. President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina estimates that about 250 million Africans live on an empty stomach daily.

According to him, hunger has become a way of life on the continent, adding that food systems across the continent were failing to deliver diets that are healthy, affordable, secure and safe for vast swathes of its population.

Since 2015, the number of people in need of emergency food assistance in the West African sub-region – which includes Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali, and Nigeria – has nearly quadrupled, jumping from seven to 27 million.

Oxfam’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Assalama Dawalack Sidi said the situation had been worsened by drought, floods, conflict, and the economic impacts of COVID-19, which have displaced millions and is “pushing them to the brink.”

“There is not enough food, let alone food that is nutritious enough for children. We must help them urgently because their health, their future and even their lives are at risk,” stressed Save the Children’s Director for West and Central Africa, Philippe Adapoe.

The United Nations has estimated that 6.3 million children aged 6-59 months will be acutely malnourished this year, an increase of almost 30 per cent from 2021.

With food increasingly scarce, families’ food sources, especially in the central Sahel, and families increasingly being forced to sell their assets, further jeopardising their productive capacity and the future of their children.

To add to the already dire situation, experts have predicted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could push food prices up to 20 per cent worldwide, “an unbearable increase for an already fragile population”.

The conflict will likely significantly reduce the availability of wheat in the six West African countries, which import at least a third or even as much as half of their consumption volumes from the conflicting countries.

While the crisis has shown no sign of abating during the past decade, international donations are drastically reducing. Last year, the humanitarian response plan for West Africa failed to reach half of its scope.

“The Sahel crisis is one of the worst humanitarian crises on a global scale and, at the same time, one of the least funded. “We fear that by redirecting humanitarian budgets to the Ukrainian crisis, we risk dangerously aggravating one crisis to respond to another,” said Mamadou Diop, the regional representative of Action Against Hunger.

According to the statement, Denmark has announced that it will postpone about half of its entire bilateral development assistance to Burkina Faso and Mali this year, in order to fund the reception of people displaced from Ukraine.


Police arrest suspected vehicle, motorcycle snatcher in Kaduna



The Police Command in Kaduna State, said its operatives have arrested a suspect with 30 different fabricated master keys of vehicles and motorcycles in Kaduna.

The command’s spokesperson, ASP Mansir Hassan, confirmed the arrest to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna.

Hassan said, “The suspect specialises in vehicle and motorcycle theft .

“In July 20, at about 0230hrs our personnel received a distress call that a shop was burgled.

“Upon receiving the information, our operatives immediately drafted to the area.”

He said on arriving at the scene, that the suspect, Zahradeenee Suleiman was arrested in the shop .

According to him, the suspect is a resident of Galma road, Tsugugi area of Sabon Gari Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State and 35 years old.

“Upon search, about 30 different sizes of keys of vehicle and motorcycles were recovered including two locally fabricated master keys in his possession,” Hassan said.

He added that the suspect was said to have specialised in the theft of vehicles and motorcycles.
Hassan said that the suspect would be charged to Court for prosecution after the completion of investigation.

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Biden condemns Russia’s 16-year sentence for U.S. reporter



President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden has sharply criticised the 16-year sentence for U.S reporter Evan Gershkovich, imposed on Friday by a Russian court.

According to the president, Gershkovich was targeted by Russia “because he is a journalist and an American.”

Biden, in a statement released by the White House, said the reporter had “committed no crime.”

He added that the U.S. government will continue to fight for the Wall Street Journal reporter’s release as well as for all U.S. citizens unlawfully detained abroad.

“Journalism is not a crime,” Biden said, adding that both he and the United Nations have said that Russia is wrongfully detaining the reporter.

“We will continue to stand strong for press freedom in Russia and worldwide, and stand against all those who seek to attack the press or target journalists,” the U.S. president added.


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APC, Police disagree over attack on Okpebholo, Shaibu in Edo



The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo Staten has accused the state police command of complicity in the attack on its Governorship Candidate, Sen. Monday Okpebholo and the reinstated deputy governor, Philip Shaibu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that gunmen attacked the two on Thursday while exiting Benin Airport shortly after they arrived from Abuja aboard a chartered flight.

The party, during a press conference on Friday in Benin, called for the sack of the Commissioner of Police, Funso Adegboye.

Kassim Afegbua, Director of Media, APC Campaign Council for the Sept. 21 election, said the ruthless shooting and killing of a policeman was witnessed by the police chief.

Afegbua said the party had petitioned the Inspector-General of Police to look into the case and check how the police commissioner undermined the role of the police.

According to him, some members of the party, who saw the commissioner at the airport shared the intelligence of what was about to happen, but unfortunately, he allegedly ignored it.

The director of media described the attack on the candidate as an assassination attempt as well as a disdain for peace that the state and its people were known for.

Reacting, Adegboye exonerated himself of any wrongdoing during the mayhem.

He refuted a claim that intelligence was shared with him ahead of the attack, saying there was no crisis throughout his stay at the airport.

The commissioner noted, however, that an investigation was ongoing and those whose names had been mentioned in the incident would be arrested soon.


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