The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says it is addressing the situation of children recruited and exploited by terrorist groups in the North-East.
Mr Sylvester Atere, National Project Officer, Outreach and Communications, UNODC Nigeria disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
He said that a workshop was organised under the EU, Nigeria, UNODC and Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) Partnership Project, adding that the programme was being funded by the European Union.
According to him, rehabilitating and reintegrating of these children poses significant challenges, not only in view of their number, but also due to the intense and lasting traumatic effects.
“It is estimated that Boko Haram and ISWAP since 2009 have recruited about 8,000 children.
“Due to the difficulties associated with collecting reliable data it is likely that these figures are underestimated.
“In 2014, the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok attracted international attention, unmasking the brutality and disregard these groups hold against children.
“Armed groups in the north-east have been recruiting and using children as combatants and non-combatants, raping and forcing girls to marry, and committing other grave violations against children.
“Some of the girls become pregnant in captivity and give birth without any medical care or attention.
“2017 report by UNICEF found that the use of children to carry out suicide attacks had become a defining feature of the conflict,” he said.
Atere said that UNODC gathered relevant stakeholders which includes; Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Also, representative of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, Federal High Court, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria,
Others are Presidential Committee on the North- East Initiative, prosecutors, social workers, civil society organisations, as well as UNICEF, OHCHR, IOM.
Atere said that the consultation was aimed to identify priorities in the areas of prevention, reintegration, justice and to foster a multi-disciplinary coordination in addressing these pressing challenges.
He disclosed that UNODC has introduced the training package, UNODC Handbook and Roadmap on the treatment of children recruited and exploited by terrorist and violent extremist groups.
He said that participants at the workshop have discussed gaps in the current preventative framework, needs to improve coherence and effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, as well as necessities for specialised training on the protection of children in a counter-terrorism context.
According to him, national authorities have asserted their renewed commitment to addressing this phenomenon and guaranteeing children’s rights.
He stated that UNODC has reiterated its readiness to support Nigeria in pursuing the complementary objectives of preserving public safety and protecting children.
Edited by Felix Ajide
Governors to meet Osinbajo on Economic Sustainability Plan implementation
By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, July 9, 2020 (NAN) The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says it will engage Vice President and Chairman, National Economic Council, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate states’ representation in the implementation committee of Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
The 36 state governors disclosed this in a communiqué issued on Thursday in Abuja by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, after its 12th COVID-19 teleconference meeting.
The governors also advocated for the need to revitalise Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s ambitious housing programme, and the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.
It noted that the forum endorsed the work of Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State-led NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19, which earlier provided an update on the implementation of the Final Report of the NEC ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19.
The report, according to the communique, contains the “Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects”, which was presented to Osinbajo in March 2020.
It quoted El-Rufai noting that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria ESP.
The governors also resolved to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to support the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme through a statewide adoption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
“The forum also resolved to ease gas pipeline right-of-way applications and encouraging the micro stove assembly for small businesses, including facilitating training for gas operators.
“NGF also resolved to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to ensure the implementation of the five per cent user charge on the pump price of petrol and the international vehicle transit charge to better fund road projects in Nigeria.
The communique noted that Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria, and Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) at the meeting presented findings of the second Corruption Survey in Nigeria.
“The survey showed that the incidence of bribery had decreased since 2016 when the survey was first conducted, from 32.3 per cent to 30.2 per cent.
“Although the second corruption survey focused on Federal Government agencies, NGF members resolved to collaborate with UNODC to strengthen public complaints mechanisms across State MDAs.
“This is given that state institutions, businesses and households are affected by bribe seeking among public sector officials.”
It disclosed that the governor also endorsed the report of NGF Sub-Committee led by Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, interfacing with the PTF on COVID-19 to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and State Governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.
The forum encouraged state governments to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus especially amongst those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, given the rise in the community spread of coronavirus cases with mild or no symptom.
It stated that the meeting deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic and the new strategy being rolled out by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) to address the spread of the pandemic.
“Local Government Areas with high burden of diseases (Hotspot) have been identified and targeted with interventions.
“They are targeted with interventions such as increased testing and promotion of non-pharmaceutical intervention including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mandatory masking in public and partial or total lockdown restricting movement,” it stated. (NAN)
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
35.9m people suffer from drug use disorders globally – UNODC
The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) says in its 2020 report that more than 35.9 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally.
Mr Abubakar Danraka, Chairman, Abuja Branch of the Association of Hospital Administration Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), quoted UNODC as reporting.
Danraka made this known in a statement, commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Abuja on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the Day, also known as “World Drug Day”, commemorated annually on June 26, has as its 2020 theme as “Better Knowledge for Better Care”.
The social media campaign hash tags for the Day is “#FactsForSolidarity”.
The day is set aside globally to commemorate the campaign and raise awareness on the dangers of drug abuse and its illicit trafficking.
Danraka, quoting UNODC latest report, said that adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs.
According to him, of the 11 million people, who inject drugs, half of them are living with Hepatitis C, and 1.4 million with HIV.
“In Nigeria, the 2018 UNODC Drug Use in Nigeria report revealed that one in seven persons aged 15 to 64 years had used a psychoactive substance (a drug other than tobacco and alcohol) for non-medical purposes in 2017.
“One in five persons, who had used drugs in the past year, is suffering from drug use disorders.
“Cannabis is the most commonly used drug of abuse, with estimated 10.8 per cent of the population having used it in the last year.
“The average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population was 19 years.
“The situation is made worse with the account that an estimated 4.7 per cent of the population had used opioids (such as tramadol, codeine or morphine) for non-medical purposes in the past year.
“Also, the survey showed a high rate of non-medical use of cough syrups containing codeine, tranquilisers, ecstasy, inhalants, amphetamines and cocaine among many other substances and chemicals,’’ he noted.
The chairman, however, appealed to parents and guardians to dedicate more qualitative time to young adults for good mentoring and adequate parenting so as to nip in the bud any signs of drug misuse and abuse at homes and schools.
Danraka further noted that victims of drug abuse should be seen and treated as drug use disorder patients that require empathy and medical care.
He advocated that full wrath of the state should be meted on the illicit drug merchants, dealers, hawkers, peddlers and traffickers abound in our communities under different guises.
“Appropriate use of drugs is guaranteed when you always consult with your pharmacist.
“Know more about drug abuse and care more for the victims.
“Let’s take responsibility and stay safe at all times.
“Together we can work toward impactful prevention and collectively build productive youths for our society,’’ he noted.
Speaking on the theme, Danraka said that the field of addressing drug problem in Nigeria has been ‘plagued’ with numerous misinformation that does not tackle the situation.
He said that this year’s theme was specifically aims at improving the understanding of the drug problem from the knowledge perspective, backed by reliable evidential data on what the real picture is.
“Several studies have demonstrated direct linkages of the current increase in insecurity, violence and all manner of criminalities to high prevalence of drug abuse amongst youths in the country.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Marking World Drug Day, UN calls for solidarity to tackle global challenges
Addressing the world drug problem requires responses that are based on facts, solidarity and compassion, said the chief of the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Friday.
Some 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally, said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, quoting the “World Drug Report 2020” released on Thursday.
“Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs. Of the 11 million people who inject drugs, half of them are living with hepatitis C, and 1.4 million with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),” she said.
Only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receives it, she added.
The theme of this year’s international day, “Better Knowledge for Better Care,” highlights the need to understand drug dynamics trapping so many people in a downward spiral, and to inform balanced solutions based on scientific evidence, said Waly.
She called on all countries to shoulder shared responsibility to tackle illicit drug supply and reduce demand.
HEAVY LOSS IN ITALY
In Italy alone, the war on drugs costs Italy 22 billion euros (24.7 billion United States dollars) per year in lost revenue, according to a new report released Friday under the terms of Italy’s Jervolino-Vassalli law, which is at the base of the country’s drug policy.
The 11th edition of the Libro Bianco Sulle Droghe (White Paper on Drugs) was released Friday in conjunction with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a day created by the United Nations “as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.”
Overall, the international day was used by various groups with diverse points of view — those calling for lighter enforcement for recreational drug use, those advocating for some drugs to be used as a kind of health therapy, and those warning that drug addiction is a growing danger.
The White Paper on Drugs, a collaborative effort between various advocacy groups, said that 37.8 percent of Italy’s prison population is in jail for drug-related offenses, many of them minors.
The estimate is that the direct and indirect impacts of maintaining those prisoners are worth 22 billion euros, plus a slow criminal justice system, and a prison system working overcapacity.
The report, which is available in most bookstores, is formally presented to Italy’s parliament on Friday.
The Jervolino-Vassalli law, passed by a national referendum in 1992, differentiates the way the law treats “light” and “heavy” drugs, and it commissioned regular studies of the trends related to Italians’ drug habits.
The international day was also marked in Italy by newspaper editorials, scattered peaceful demonstrations in parts of the country, and a declaration from Italy’s Central Directorate of Anti-Drug Services (DCSA) in Rome, which reiterated the organization’s cooperation with police in the fight against drug trafficking.
Together with the country’s Department for Anti-Drug Policies, the DCSA helps organize various conferences to shed light on drug-related issues and make recommendations on relevant statutes. It has signed bilateral and multilateral drug enforcement agreements with authorities in nearly 60 countries and regions.
In addition, around two dozen national groups in Italy, which advocate the use of certain light drugs like cannabis as a therapy against certain illnesses, used the international day to call for rules that would facilitate access to such drugs.
“June 26 is an unmissable opportunity to shout to the country that we exist and we are tired of being forgotten,” Luciano Squillaci, president of the Italian Federation of Therapeutic Communities, said in a statement. Squillaci also said his organization and many others were “involved in a battle for fair treatment.”
Speaking on Thursday, Roberta Pacifici, director of the National Center on Addiction and Doping, part of Italy’s National Institute of Health, said that the center did not oppose the legal use of drugs, that the average age of illicit drug users was dropping for the first time, and that the country’s overall addiction levels were growing.
“This is the time for action, more than ever before,” Pacifici said in a video conference.
NGO to rehabilitate 40,000 drug users in 5 years
The Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), is to rehabilitate 40,000 drug users by 2025.
The President of the vanguard, Dr Hope Abraham made this known on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja! with the theme entitled: “Better Knowledge for Better Care.”
According to him, the theme stems from the array of misinformation that have plagued the field concerned with addressing the drug problem.
“The theme aims at improving the understanding of the World drug problem and fostering greater international co-operation for countering its impact on Health, Government, and Security.
“One of the main objectives of VGADA is sensitisation on drug abuse and that is why VGADA over her past two years of operation has consistently spearheaded activities that aimed at sensitising.
“Also providing correct information about drug use, dangers associated with it and the risk factors that predispose to it.
“This is because we recognise that correct information about drug abuse improves knowledge of drug abuse which invariably translate into better drug use habit, ” he said.
Abraham said that the group would launch the “Project 40,000” by Aug. 12, adding that the peer educator course manual and lesson materials would be based on the truth about Drugs by the Drug Free World Foundation, United States
According to him, aside helping these young people recover, they will also be equipped in taking the right information about drug abuse to others.
“Together, through concerted efforts and advocacy by CSOs, Government and Non-Governmental Organisations, we can be assured of developing a working alternative to illicit drug production and trafficking.
“As well as advance appropriate justice response, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services in manners that give a high premium to human rights and are sensitive to young people, women, and unrepresented groups,” he said.
NAN reports that the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (World Drug Day) is celebrated globally and annually every June 26.
Abraham said that the day was specifically earmarked by the UNODC to highlight the danger of drug abuse and bring awareness to people and how to deal with it.
He said that the group would also embarked among other projects Miss VGADA and Face of VGADA Nigeria 2020 mainly to be used in curbing menace of drugs.
The VGADA boss said that the platforms were created for young women to avail them opportunities to become ambassadors in the campaign against drug abuse.
He added that it would be another avenue to be at the forefront nationally and internationally in sensitising and providing correct information on drug abuse among women and the general population.
According to him, we are elated that the UNODC has chosen this theme for 2020 and it is only a call for us to put in more effort in sensitisation by drumming up more activities that will bridge the know-do gap.
“This is a major requirement if we are to win the war against drug abuse.
“We join our voice to the UNODC’s to call on well-meaning CSOs, National and International agencies to also make it a priority to disseminate correct information on drug abuse.
“This would enable the populace get information in order to ensure widespread adoption of healthy drug use habit,” he.
Abraham however, commended the Presidential Advisory Committee on Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) on the effort put in to draw up recommendations on how to tackle the drug abuse menace in Nigeria.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)