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Akufo-Addo Urges Action Against Insecurity In ECOWAS

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President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has called for concerted action by member countries to effectively tackle insecurity in the region.
Akufo-Addo made the appeal on Saturday during the 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government,  which was held virtually.
He said that the sub-region continued to face critical security challenges with deadly terrorist attacks in Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger, as he condemned the attacks in the region and community.
“We sympathise and extend our deep condolences to affected countries and the families of the victims.
“These developments must reinforce our conviction that we must pursue, even more vigorously, the actions we have begun, with the rapid implementation of the decisions of our Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism, held on 14th September 2019.
“This concerted effort, which must be a major priority objective of the community, is the best way for us to address collectively, the security challenge.
“And give ourselves the means to ensure the security of the populations of our community. Our dignity and our sovereignty are at stake,” Akufo-Addo said.
Akufo-Addo commended member countries who have kept to their commitments of paying their financial contribution to the US$1 billion ECOWAS Regional Security Fund (ERSF), created in support of the 2020-2024 Anti-Terrorism Action Plan.
The chairman of the authority said that raising the money had to be a high priority for ECOWAS because it enabled member states to act independently in the crisis.
“Your Excellencies will recall that the 2019 Summit created the Fund to cover a five (5) year period, 2020-2024.
“The UEMOA countries committed to contribute five hundred million United States dollars (US$500 million), whilst the Federal Republic of Nigeria also pledged three hundred and fifty million dollars (US$350 million);
“Leaving a balance of one hundred and fifty million dollars (US$150 million) for the six (6) remaining countries and other sources.
“Out of the five hundred million United States dollars ($500 million) pledged by the UEMOA countries, one hundred million ($100 million) has been disbursed directly to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to assist them in their anti-terrorism activities.

“Out of the Nigerian pledge of three hundred and fifty million ($350 million), one hundred million United States dollars ($100 million) was pledged for 2020.
“Out of which eighty million dollars ($80 million) was to be used directly by them in their fight against terrorism on their northern border, and twenty million dollars ($20 million) was to go to the Fund.
“The Commission is awaiting confirmation transfer instructions for this amount, which will then leave a balance of two hundred and fifty million dollars to be contributed to the Fund by Nigeria.
“Ghana, on its part, has decided to pledge $50 million over the five year period of which $10 million is destined for the fund, and $40 million for the domestic empowerment of its border security against potential terrorist incursions.
“Half of the ten million dollars ($10 million), i.e., five million dollars ($5 million), has been paid by Ghana into the ESRF account, of which confirmation transfer instructions for this payment has been received by the commission.
“The remaining one hundred million dollars ($100 million), which is to be paid by the other five (5) countries, will complete the establishment of the entire fund. We need to do this as quickly as possible,” Akufo-Addo said.
He appreciated foreign Friends of ECOWAS for their support in ensuring that the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) were able to broaden their scope of support to member states as a complement to their efforts.
Akufo-Addo said this was time for ECOWAS to work earnestly towards the vaccination of its populations and a time to send a strong signal to ECOWAS citizens after the summit of the determination and commitments to protect them.
In his remarks, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, President, ECOWAS Commission, reiterated that the sub-region continued to face the challenges posed by the terrorist threat in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Northern Nigeria.
Brou said the recurrent attacks of insurgents in some parts of the sub-region has led to grave loss of lives, displacement, destruction of property and a huge humanitarian crises.
“In this regard, it has become increasingly urgent to implement the Action Plan to combat terrorism approved in December 2019 by the Authority,” Brou said.

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British Govt Launches Inquiry Into Its Handling Of Coronavirus

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A public inquiry is being launched into the British government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said on Wednesday.
The inquiry, which will begin in the spring of 2022, will place “the state’s actions under the microscope” and help Britain “to learn every lesson for the future,” Johnson told lawmakers in the British Parliament.
“Amid such tragedy, the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible, and to learn every lesson for the future – which is why I’ve always said when the time is right there should be a full and independent inquiry.
“So, I can confirm today that the government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 – including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath,” Johnson said.
He added that the devolved parliaments of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales would also be consulted before the publishing of the report.
Opposition leader, Keir Starmer, praised the decision to conduct an inquiry, but urged for it to be carried out sooner.
He also urged that both families affected by the coronavirus and front line workers be consulted, as well as the devolved parliaments.
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WHO Panel Urges Bold Overhaul Of Pandemic Prevention Measures

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The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), appointed by World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday urged bold action to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, in his opening remarks at the launch of the IPPPR Report at the world health body’s headquarters in Geneva welcomed the findings of the panel.
Ghebreyesus said: “ we welcome today’s presentation of the panel’s findings and recommendations, and we look forward to the publication of the full report at the World Health Assembly.
“The Independent Panel’s report is one of a suite of reports reviewing different aspects of the pandemic, and WHO’s work, including the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations.
“The Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme; The external Evaluation of the Transformation Agenda and the Intergovernmental working group on Sustainable Financing.
“We look forward to reviewing all of these reports, and to discussing them with our Member States in the coming weeks.’’
The director general, however, thanked former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, co-chair of IPPPR and the Right Honourable Helen Clark for their leadership, as well as the panel members and Secretariat.
“We look forward to working with our Member States to discuss the recommendations of this Panel and the other committees to build a stronger WHO and a healthier, safer, fairer future for all of us,’’ he said.
Sirleaf, in her remarks, said: “Our message is simple and clear: the current system failed to protect us from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If we do not act to change it now, it will not protect us from the next pandemic threat, which could happen at any time.”
Similarly in her remarks, co-chair of IPPPR, Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand said: “The tools are available to put an end to the severe illnesses, deaths, and socio-economic damage caused by Covid-19.
“ We have no choice but to act to stop such a catastrophe happening again,’’ she said.
The panel – whose report contains “the authoritative chronology of what happened” – also insisted that February 2020 was “a lost month”.
This was because “many more countries” could have done more to contain the spread of the new coronavirus after the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.
According to Sirleaf, the shelves of storage rooms in the UN and national capitals are full of reports and reviews of previous health crises.
“Had their warnings been heeded, we would have avoided the catastrophe we are in today. This time must be different.’’
Quicker action “would have helped to prevent the global health, social, and economic catastrophe that continues its grip”, the panel noted.
The panel added that “the system as it stands now is clearly unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, from developing into a pandemic.’’
Among its recommendations, the panel urged Heads of State to take the lead in supporting proven public health measures to curb the pandemic and implement reforms “to prevent a future outbreak” from spreading globally.
The panel also advised high-income countries with adequate vaccine supply to commit to provide “at least one billion” doses to the 92 low and middle-income countries in the UN-led equitable vaccine scheme, COVAX, by September.
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De-Escalation, An Absolute Must In Israel-Palestine Conflict – UN Chief

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United Nation’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, declared on Wednesday that de-escalation of the Palestine-Israel conflict was “an absolute must”, saying that the mounting death toll, including children, is totally unacceptable.
Guterres, after meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow, said that an end to the violence was needed “to protect the lives of civilians that are now dying in totally unacceptable circumstances”.
According to news reports, the violence has seen more than 50 Palestinians killed along with six Israelis since Monday.
Meanwhile, in New York, the renewed conflict represents the most serious escalation between Israelis and Palestinians “in years”, the UN Special Coordinator for the region told the Security Council.
UN Spokesperson, Stéph-ane Dujarric, briefed reporters in New York at the regular noon press conference, on the update given by Tor Wennesland to the Council, which met behind closed doors.
“We are very concerned by the growing civilian casualties in both Gaza and Israel, and deeply saddened by reported deaths of children in Gaza,” Dujarric said.
He said that the Secretary-General and Wennesland had both reiterated that: “Hamas and other militants’ indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars violated the humanitarian law.
“They have emphasised that indiscriminate launching of rockets from highly populated civilian neighbourhoods towards civilian population centres violated international humanitarian law, and it is unacceptable and has to stop immediately.”
The spokesperson said the Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process had also told ambassadors that Israeli authorities must “abide by their responsibilities under international law”.
In addition, he said that Israeli security forces should exercise maximum restraint, calibrate their use of force to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations.
The Secretary-General is “particularly appalled that children continue to be victims of violence”, said Dujarric, adding that youngsters needed to be given special protection.
“He and his Envoy have called on the international community to take action to enable the parties to step back from the brink and return to the previous understandings.
“To return to previous understanding that have maintained a relative calm in Gaza and avoid a descent into chaos, with the massive casualties and immense damage to civilian infrastructure that would result,” the spokesperson said.
Wennesland, however, reminded Council members that it was the civilian population on both sides, that bore the burden of war and that the most vulnerable are the ones at greatest risk of suffering.
He also told the Council that the cycle of violence would only end with a political resolution of the conflict, an end to the occupation and a realisation of a two-State solution on the basis of UN resolutions, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, said on Wednesday that at least 14 children in Palestine and one child in Israel have been reported killed since Monday.
She noted that another 95 children in Gaza and the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and three children in Israel have reportedly been injured in the past five days.
“The situation is at a dangerous tipping point. The level of violence and its impact on children is devastating. We are on the brink of a full-scale war. In any war, children – all children – suffer first and suffer most”.
She urged all sides to “protect all civilians, especially children, to spare essential civilian infrastructure from attacks, and to end violations against children”. (
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