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Millions at risk in flood-hit Nigeria

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Children stand in a flood water in Borno State, Nigeria. © UNICEF/Vlad Sokhin

More than 2.8 million people have been impacted by Nigeria’s worst floods in a decade, with 1.3 million displaced and hundreds of lives lost, said the UN chief on Friday, expressing his sadness at the devastation.Infrastructure and farmland have also been damaged, said the statement issued on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres, worsening the cost of living across the country.  

He extended his deepest condolences to the Government of Nigeria and to the affected families, reiterating the UN’s continuing “commitment to supporting the Government of Nigeria in this challenging time.”

UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said that 60 per cent of those in need were children, who are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

The floods have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, and over 600 people have lost their lives, with 200,000 houses either partially or fully damaged.

In the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of 12 October, and rains are expected to continue for several weeks, along with rising humanitarian needs.

‘Extremely vulnerable’

“Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation,” said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases and emotional and psychological distress. UNICEF is working closely with the Government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.”  

Immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, and hygiene; as well as shelter and food.

Humanitarian needs ‘rising fast’ in Burkina Faso: Griffiths

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, ended a short fact-finding mission to nearby Burkina Faso on Friday, saying it was a critical time for the landlocked West African nation.

“Humanitarian needs are rising fast. A quarter of the population, or some 4.9 million people need emergency assistance, a staggering 40 per cent more people than at the beginning of the year”, he said. “One in ten Burkinabe is displaced from their homes by devastating conflict and climate shocks.”

Growing insecurity from extremist armed groups operating across much of the Sahel, and blockades in many areas have left communities isolated, and with inadequate supplies of humanitarian aid.

“To provide critical life-saving relief to those in need with a level of dignity and respect that every human being deserves, we urgently require additional resources. Our US$805 million response plan in Burkina Faso is less than a third funded.”

Diet of leaves and salt

Relief chief Griffiths said he’d met some displaced in the town of Djibo, who had eaten “only leaves and salt, for weeks.”

“The situation is so bad that women are risking their lives, crossing lines of control at night in search of food. I spoke with community leaders who urged those in charge to open roads for food, water, and vital medicine to reach them, to save lives. There are peaceful initiatives to find solutions and there is still hope. The people of Djibo deserve our respect, admiration and much more support in this hour of dire need.”

He also met the new military leader of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traoré, who was sworn in on Friday vowing to defeat terrorism in the north, replacing a former coup leader who seized power in January.

Mr. Griffiths said he had stressed the need for protection of civilians, including for those caught up in conflict, and asked the transitional president to ensure “a conducive environment for humanitarian operations and enable humanitarian access, so that we can reach all Burkinabé in need, everywhere across the country.”

In the first nine months of this year, the UN and our humanitarian partners brought food assistance to 1.8 million people and supported 740,000 people with access to healthcare in areas where health facilities have closed down and where medical supplies are lacking.

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Former CIA analyst: ‘A costly and prolonged cold war now seems a certainty’

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‘No one knows how the war in Ukraine will end, but there is one post-war certainty: there will be a prolonged and costly Cold War between the United States and Russia,’ – predicts Melvin A. Goodman, a former CIA analyst, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.

He writes: In an interview with David Ignatius of the Washington Post, who has been doing the bidding of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency for several decades, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of a “long-term goal of deterrence.” Ignatius took this to mean that the Biden administration will make sure that Russia “should not be able to rest, regroup and reattack.”

In addition to this year’s record defense budget that found the Congress providing $45 billion more than the Pentagon requested, a so-called “emergency” provision will lay the foundation for adding scarce resources to defense spending in the coming year. This provision will allow multiyear, noncompetitive agreements to produce such ordinary weaponry as rockets and munitions.

According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon will now have a way to replenish its stockpiles that will provide a “new golden age” for military contractors.

The Biden administration’s gift to the military-industrial complex rivals what the Reagan administration provided in the 1980s and ensures the country’s rich market for weapons sales. Nearly half of the record defense spending of $858 billion goes to military contractors.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees made sure that these spending spigots remain open by naming individuals with ties to the weapons industry to a commission that will review the Biden National Defense Strategy. The chairwoman of the commission, former Representative Jane Harman, protected Lockheed-Martin when she served on the Hill and currently is on the board of a military contractor that recently received a seven-year $800 million contract from the Pentagon.

The increased defense spending and the new emergency provision coincide with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s creation of a new committee — the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. In view of the recent rise in anti-Asian violence in the United States, it can only be hoped that Democrats appoint members to the committee who understand the domestic consequences of hyping the threat from China at this particular time.

Our China policy is not working, and the exaggeration of the China threat comes just in time for the hawks in the political aviary who fear that the severe deficiencies of the Russian military in Ukraine is making it more difficult to exaggerate the Russia threat. I’ve been calling attention to the exaggeration of the Russian threat for the past 50 years.

But the policy community, the bipartisan congressional community, and the pundit community can’t let go of the idea that the Soviet Union and Russia present a ‘threat to the national security of the United States’.

The Biden policy ensures a robust military presence on the Russian border that will worsen Cold War 2.0. There will be prolonged and unnecessary increases in defense spending, and the absence of a diplomatic dialogue in those important areas where there is Russian-American agreement.

These areas include a variety of arms control and disarmament issues, such as stopping the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and limiting the use of space in the military competition as well as dealing with insurgencies and terrorism; environmental degradation; and future pandemics.

It is hard to imagine any Russian government willing to pursue diplomatic solutions with a United States that has sponsored a NATO with more than 30 members; a military base in Poland; a regional missile defense in Poland and Romania; and the use of Romanian military facilities close by Russian forces and the Black Sea.

This serious turning point is being ignored by the policy community as well as the pundit and academic communities.”

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NATO press South Korea to provide arms to Ukraine

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Image source: NATO

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged South Korea to provide military support to Ukraine, saying the country is in urgent need of ammunition, stresses “The Wall Street Journal”. Mr. Stoltenberg met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. After the meeting, Mr. Yoon promised to provide continued support to Ukraine, without saying whether Seoul would consider sending arms.

NATO is calling on South Korea to supply Ukraine because it is a U.S. ally with substantial capability to provide weapons, said Cha Du-hyeogn, a research fellow at Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. It means that NATO efforts are no longer enough.

While not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, South Korea is a close U.S. ally, and Mr. Yoon attended the NATO summit last year in Madrid. South Korea has sent materials such as gas masks, bulletproof vests and medical supplies to Ukraine, but has declined to provide lethal weapons, citing a law that prevents it from arming countries engaged in conflicts.

South Korea has been supplying arms to countries that have been supporting Ukraine in the war, including NATO member Poland. Seoul has signed deals to provide Poland with tanks and aircraft since the start of the war.

But, Seoul has sought to tread carefully with Russia, which is a large energy supplier to South Korea and holds sway with North Korea.

Mr. Stoltenberg in Seoul called North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development and missile tests grave threats that violate United Nations Security Council sanctions.

Pyongyang called Mr. Stoltenberg’s visit to South Korea and Japan a “prelude to confrontation and war,” saying it could bring a new Cold War to the Asia-Pacific region, according to North Korean state media.

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Russia restored Syrian air base for joint use

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Jarrah Base, Syria (Photo Credit: TASS)

Russia and Syria have restored the ‘Al-Jarrah’ military air base in Syria’s north to be jointly used, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.

“Russian and Syrian military personnel restored the destroyed al-Jarrah airfield,” the ministry said on the Telegram messaging. “The joint basing of aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force at the al-Jarrah airfield makes it possible to cover the state border.”

The small base east of Aleppo was recaptured from Islamic State fighters in 2017.

Russia has been a dominant military force in Syria since launching air strikes and ground operations there in 2015. It further asserted its presence after the United States pulled out its forces in 2019.

The conflict in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions and drawn in regional and world powers, has entered into a second decade, although fighting is at a lower intensity than in earlier years, writes ‘The National’ from Abu Dhabi, UAE.

With backing from Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government has recovered most of its territory.

Turkish-backed opposition fighters still control a pocket in the north-west, and Kurdish fighters backed by the US also control territory near the Turkish border.

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