The United Nations has announced the receipt of $236,363 (about N85 million) from the Government of Japan to support ‘mine action service’ in Nigeria and also provide critical life-saving assistance to civilians and humanitarian actors in the North-east.
The United Nations Mine Action Service, the UN agency in-charge of landmines, said the assistance is to help protect these categories of persons from landmines of an improvised nature in the region.
The programme coordinator, UNMAS Nigeria, Lionel Pechera, in a statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, lamented how hundreds of civilians, which include women and children, were killed and injured by improvised explosive devices in 2019.
Mr Pechera lauded the Japanese government for their continued commitment to mine action and the well-being of members of warring communities.
“UNMAS Nigeria highly appreciates the Government of Japan’s support to the programme
and above all to the physical integrity and psychosocial wellbeing of civilian communities
affected by the growing and pressing threat of explosives,” Mr Pechera was quoted as saying.
He further added that “Japan’s integrated support strengthens our vital humanitarian mine action operations to ensure that critical life-saving information can be provided to mitigate the explosive ordnance risks amongst all children and adults across the three States in northeast Nigeria.”
Through this effort, he said, the UNMAS Nigeria would expand the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) in order to prevent future accidents.
He added that the contribution would also be used to conduct in-depth studies on the influence of daily life behaviours on the risk of accident in different locations.
According to the programme coordinator, “it will enhance the understanding of how explosive ordnance risk education can be tailored and adopted to the specificities of children, women and men, based on their livelihood such as farming, herding, collection of wood, scrap metal collection and children at play.”
Mr Pechera said the mine action would assuage the explosive risks in conflict-ravaged areas in the North-east.
“In the framework of Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE), one of the main pillars of mine action derived from Mine Risk Education, UNMAS Nigeria, with the financial support of the Government of Japan, will mitigate the explosive risks within conflict affected community members, IDPs in camps and host communities, refugees, returnees and humanitarian workers.
“Following 2019 progress to precisely identify needs for mine action assistance with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing, 1.5 million people have been identified immediately at risk who are in need for life-saving assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Kikuta Yutaka, reportedly said the humanitarian assistance is in tandem with the Japanese policy of development cooperation with Nigeria to promote peace and stability.
“The project supports UNMAS’s actions to improve humanitarian access and to increase the provision of life-saving action in the North-east. It is in line with Japan’s Country Development Cooperation
Policy for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, of which the promotion of peace and stability including reconstruction assistance in the Northeast region is recognized as its priority,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that the ongoing global health crisis has cast a shadow of uncertainty over one of Nigeria’s most vulnerable regions —the North-east – thus the offer of assistance.
“Even in this difficult time, Japan is committed and will continue to offer humanitarian, non-military assistance through UNMAS and other international organisations to mitigate the effect of insurgency in Nigeria,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the UN appreciated the commitment of the Government of Japan towards mine action worldwide and most importantly emphasising the significant contribution made specifically to the protection of civilians and safety of aid workers in North-east Nigeria.
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