UN To Honour Three Fallen Nigerian Peacekeepers

Three fallen Nigerian peacekeepers will be honoured, among others, in commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the United Nations (UN) has said.

The three Nigerians are: Ali Suleiman, a Lt. Col. who served with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Warrant Officer Remmy Amakwe who was deployed with the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); and Kolawole Shogaolu who served in a civilian capacity in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

According to a statement by the National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Oluseyi Soremekun, the commemoration will begin on Tuesday, May 29 and the honouring of fallen heroes will take place in New York on Friday, June 1.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres will visit the United Nations Peacekeepers in Mali on May 29, to express his solidarity with “colleagues facing high casualties and enormous volatility.”

Upon his return from Mali, the Secretary-General will preside over the observance of the International Day of Peacekeepers at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Friday, June 1.

He will lay a wreath to honour those who lost their lives while in the service of peace and will also officiate at a ceremony to posthumously present the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal to the 129 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives in peacekeeping operations during 2017.

Nigeria is the 41st largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently contributes more than 500 military and police personnel to the UN peace operations in Abyei, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and the Western Sahara.


US Opens Jerusalem Embassy Monday

The United States will officially be relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem later on Monday in a move sharply opposed by Palestinians and a large section of the international community.

The interim embassy will operate inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem, while a search begins for a larger site.

Neither President Donald Trump nor secretary of state Mike Pompeo will be attending the ceremony.

But in a move interpreted by some commentators as designed to defuse tensions, Mr. Trump has sent Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (his favourite child and his son-in-law) to perform the opening ceremony in Jerusalem.

Both Ivanka and her husband, Mr. Kushner, are seen as highly influential members of the Trump White House.

Trump Withdraws U.S. From Iran Nuclear Deal

President Donald Trump has declared that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump said it’s clear the country cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement, adding that the Iran deal is defective at its core.

He says the US will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction and that any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons would also be strongly sanctioned

European leaders had warned that a U.S. withdrawal would undo years of work that led to and sustained a landmark deal that has kept nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands.

Recall that Iran has complied with the nuclear agreement since it was reached in July 2015, ending 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Former Speaker Gets 15 Years In Jail For Corruption

Indonesia’s former parliament speaker was handed a 15-year prison term on Tuesday in one of the country’s harshest sentences for graft, marking a victory for its clamp-down on widespread corruption.

Setya Novanto, once among the country’s most influential politicians, had been accused of taking millions in kickbacks and bribes linked to the national roll-out of government ID cards.

“We have found defendant Setya Novanto, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty of violating anti-corruption law,” presiding Judge Yanto told the packed Jakarta courtroom.

Novanto, who showed little reaction to the sentence, said he would “need time” to consider an appeal.

His months-long trial came after a string of manoeuvres — including allegedly faking an injury in a car crash — that critics say the 62-year-old used to dodge serious charges.

Prosecutors had demanded a 16-year sentence.

Judge Yanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, also fined Novanto 500 million rupiah ($36,000), far less than the $7.4 million prosecutors had wanted him to pay as restitution to the state.

Novanto, who had managed to sidestep corruption allegations in the past, was accused of playing a key role in embezzlement from the $440 million ID card project, with some $170 million disappearing from state coffers.

Several other politicians, government officials and businessmen have been charged in the scandal.

The scope of the claims shocked many Indonesians even by standards of one of the world’s most corrupt countries, where payoffs and bribes are rife at all levels of society and endemic in many state agencies, including the police force.

UN Elects Nigeria’s Emuze Into Rights Panel

Nigeria’s candidate, Amb. Peters Emuze has been elected to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in a keenly-contested election held at the UN Headquarters, New York.

Emuze was elected for a four-year tenure.

Emuze, who entered the race at the last minute, beat candidates of six other countries’ to clinch the first of the two seats for Africa.

He would be representing the African continent on the panel from 2019 to 2022.

His victory, in clinching one of the two Africa’s seats on the board of the committee for at least four years, is seen as a ‘feather’ for Nigeria.

CESCR is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of citizens by its States parties.

The committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of May 28, 1985, to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


Former U.S. First Lady Bush Dies Of Heart Failure

A former First Lady of the United States of America, Barbara Bush, has died on Tuesday evening at the age of 92.

Spokesman for the family, Jim McGrath, made this known in a press statement made available to newsmen.

“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H.W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grand children; and her brother, Scott Pierce.

“She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.

“The official funeral schedule will be announced as soon as is practical,” the statement said.

Barbara served as the country’s first lady from 1989 to 1993.


Hunger, Root Cause Of Instability Across Globe, Says WFP

The World Food Program, WFP says hunger is not just a byproduct of war, but the main cause of instability in many countries.

The WFP United States Director Of Public Policy and Research, Dr. Chase Sova, highlighted this in a comprehensive review of a new report from World Food Program USA that confirmed food insecurity as being linked to at least nine separate types of instability, ranging from protest to interstate conflict, with terrorism and civil war .

He said that more people were currently displaced from their homes because of violence, conflict and persecution than any other time since the World War II.

According to him, one of the consequences was an increase in the number of hungry people on the planet for the first time in over a decade.

“When we think of food-related instability, food riots very often come to mind. Food riots have played a role in the French Revolution and have been captured in headlines worldwide for generations – pasta riots in Italy, tortilla riots in Mexico, bread riots in the Middle East. Americans spend only 10 percent of their income on food, while citizens in the world’s poorest countries spend closer to 60 percent. Global food price spikes can have major effects on political stability in these settings” Dr.Sova said.

France, EU, UN Condemns Syria’s Chemical Attack In Rebel-Held Town

At least 85 people were killed in the chlorine gas attack in a Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital, Damascus, on Saturday.

Among those killed were many women and children who had sought refuge in the basements of buildings to escape heavy bombardment by pro-government forces, according to a statement by rescue workers and medical staff.

Commenting on the incidents, the European Union called for an international response to the attack.

“The evidence points towards yet another chemical attack by the regime,” the bloc said in a statement.

“It is a matter of grave concern that chemical weapons continue to be used, especially on civilians. The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons and calls for an immediate response by the international community.”

The EU also called on the UN Security Council to re-establish its checks to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks and on Russia and Iran – the Syrian government’s closest allies – to use their influence with al-Assad to prevent further attacks.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France strongly condemned attacks and bombings by Syrian government forces in the last 24 hours in Douma, adding they were a “gross violation of international humanitarian law.

He called for the United Nations Security Council to meet quickly to examine the situation saying that France would work with allies to verify reports that chemical weapons were used.

Referring to President Emmanuel Macron’s warning that France could strike unilaterally if there was a deadly chemical attack, Le Drian said that Paris would assume all its responsibilities in the fight against the proliferation of chemical weapons.

In recent years, the Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons as a tool against the armed opposition.


Trump Picks Personal Doctor Ronny Jackson To Replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

United States President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and picked the presidential doctor to replace him.

Thanking Mr Shulkin in a tweet, he said he intended to nominate Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, who gave him his first medical as president in January.

Unnamed officials told Reuters Mr Shulkin had become a distraction due to speculation about his future.

A Pentagon official, Robert Wilkie, will be the acting secretary.

It is the latest in a series of departures from Mr Trump’s cabinet.

This month alone, he has replaced his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and National Security Advisor, HR McMaster, while his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, also left following discord over Mr Trump’s plans to impose trade tariffs on steel and aluminium.


Malala Returns To Pakistan For First Time Since Shooting

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban militants.

Ms Yousafzai, now aged 20 and a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the head by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012.

She is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Details of the trip have been kept secret “in view of the sensitivity”, an official told AFP news agency.

Pakistani television broadcast video that appeared to show her with her parents at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport under tight security.

The trip is expected to last four days and she arrived with officials from her Malala Fund group, local media report.

It has not been confirmed if she will visit her family’s hometown of Swat in the country’s rural north-west during her visit.


Vladimir Putin Elected Russia’s President For Fourth Time

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin is set to serve his country for another six (6) years after ‘winning’ an election with no real opposition’.

Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two (2) decades, stood against seven (7) other candidates, but his most vocal critic Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot for legal reasons and the final outcome was never in doubt, AFP reports.

The exit poll by state-owned pollster VTsIOM at 1,200 voting stations around Russia projected that Putin had won 73.9 percent of the vote, up from 64 percent six years ago.

The central election commission said turnout was 60 percent after the authorities used both the carrot and the stick to boost participation.

A report by AFP says selfie competitions, giveaways, food festivals and children’s entertainers were laid on at polling booths in a bid to create a festive atmosphere around the election.

Russia Fires Back At UK, Announces Plan To Expel 23 British Diplomats

The Russian foreign ministry announced Saturday it will expel 23 British diplomats within a week in a tit-for-tat response to London’s measures over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

“Twenty three diplomatic staff at the British embassy in Moscow are declared persona non grata and to be expelled within a week,” the foreign ministry said in a statement after summoning the British ambassador Laurie Bristow.

Details soon…

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