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Presence of Boko Haram Islamists has led to Humanitarian Crisis in Northeast Nigeria, says UN Refugee Agency

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said aid agencies could not move around freely amid the continuing military campaign

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Crisis in Nigeria. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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A catastrophic humanitarian situation is unfolding in northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamists have displaced nearly 2 million people since 2013, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the extent of the suffering to which Boko Haram victims have been subjected was only now becoming visible. It said government forces’ advances into the Islamist group’s previous stronghold in northeast Nigeria had exposed the destitution of the displaced population.

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UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said aid agencies could not move around freely amid the continuing military campaign. He said that the situation in the region remained dangerous and volatile and that it was impossible to go to some areas without a military escort.

Adrian Edwards. Image source: Twitter
Adrian Edwards. Image source: Twitter

Edwards said the suffering in Borno and Yobe states was shocking. He cited numerous reports of human rights violations, including deaths, sexual violence, disappearances, forced recruitment, forced religious conversions and attacks on civilian sites.

He said the population of Bama, the largest city in Borno after the capital, Maiduguri, had been deeply traumatized. Many of the displaced are women, children and the elderly, he said.

“We have seen adults so exhausted they are unable to move, children with swollen faces and hollow eyes and other clear indications of acute malnutrition,” Edwards said. “Many also show signs of severe trauma. We have people screaming at night. We have aggression among children. People complain about a lack of food and water.”

Regional crisis

Edwards said that with the lack of security along the borders with Niger, Chad, and northern Cameroon, the insurgency in northeast Nigeria had turned into a vast regional crisis, with immense suffering among both the Nigerian refugees and internally displaced nationals.

“One consequence is that Nigerian refugees are fleeing back into their own country, into one of the most catastrophic areas as far as humanitarian needs are concerned that we are seeing at the moment,” he said. “So, it is moving, it is dynamic. It is very difficult, and the insecurity, as I said, it is making it a very tough job indeed, getting these people the help that they desperately need.”

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The UNHCR is scaling up its operations to provide lifesaving assistance to nearly 500,000 people. The World Food Program and U.N. children’s fund said they were trying to reach more than 700,000 people in desperate need.

The beneficiaries are concentrated in 10 newly liberated local government areas in Borno state, but the U.N. agencies said the thousands of refugees who have returned to Nigeria from the three Lake Chad Basin neighbors also urgently needed care. (VOA)

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Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Australia, Coal
The Liddell coal-fired power station is seen in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, Australia. VOA

Australia is rejecting the latest U.N. report on climate change, insisting coal remains critical to energy security and lowering household power bills.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its report released Monday that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by the middle of the century to stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The authors warned that if warming was allowed to reach two degrees, the world would be on course toward uncontrollable temperatures.

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

They made special mention of coal, insisting that its use for power generation would have to fall to between zero and two percent of current usage.

The report has received a lukewarm response by Australia’s center-right government. It has said it has no intention of scaling back fossil fuel production because without coal, household power bills would soar.

Canberra also insists it is on target to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, which attempts to unite every nation under a single accord to tackle climate change for the first time ever.

Australia earns billions of dollars exporting coal to China and other parts of Asia, while it generates more than 60 percent of domestic electricity.

Queensland, Australia
FILE – A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price believes the IPCC report exaggerates the threat posed by fossil fuel.

“Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mixer and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down,” Price said. “Every year, there is new technology with respect to coal and what its contribution is to emissions. So, you know, to say that it has got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow.”

Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas pollution. A recent government report showed a failure to reduce levels of greenhouse gas pollution. The survey said that between January and March this year, Australia had its most elevated levels of carbon pollution since 2011.

Coal, Australia
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

Conservationists argue Australia is doing too little to protect itself from the predicted ravages of a shifting climate.

Also Read: Use Every Resources To Help in Climate Change: Scientists

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Scientists warn that droughts, floods, heat waves, brush fires and storms will become more intense as temperatures rise, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef. (VOA)