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UN global education envoy urges new funding for ‘lost generation’ of children forced out of classrooms by conflict

INTERNATIONAL, 19 February 2019, Culture and Education - A child’s “real passport” to the future – education – should be stamped in the classroom, not at a border checkpoint, UN Special Envoy for Global EducationGordon Brown said on Tuesday. 

Ensuring that the world’s children have a place in school classroom is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which calls for quality education for all by 2030.

Speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Brown warned that “99 per cent of the world’s young refugees who are now becoming the invisible generation will never get a place in college or higher education; and only 20 per cent will get a secondary education”.

“It’s time the world woke up to the horror of so many children devoid of hope,” he stated.

Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Mr. Brown said there are perhaps 75 million children caught in conflict. “[They] are broken by the absence of hope, the soul crushing certainty that there’s nothing ahead for which to plan or prepare, not even a place in a school classroom.”

He lamented the desolation of a “lost generation” and made an urgent appeal for new funding for more than 30 million displaced and refugee young people.

Recounting the situation of the Maria refugee camp in Greece, where “no formal education is on offer to any of the hundreds of children who are there”, Mr. Brown told journalists the story of two young boys – one only 10 years old – who attempted suicide in the camp.

Mr. Brown said that “at that age, their lives should be full of hope and excitement at every new dawn – but instead young people are so devoid of hope, that they attempted to take their own lives”.

“A lost generation is not only identified by empty class rooms and silent playgrounds and short unmarked graves; a lost generation is one where hope dies in those who live”, he added.

Noting that the Security Council was currently on the difficult circumstances in Yemen affecting millions of children, Mr. Brown, the former British Prime Minister, also highlighted the escalating crisis in Venezuela, the half a million out of school children alone in Central African Republic (CAR), the need to reopen a 1,000 schools in Afghanistan – where there are still 3.7 million out of school children – and the ongoing refugee challenge being driven by situations in, among others, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria.

On a positive note, Mr. Brown announced that the Education Cannot Wait Fund (ECW) – which was set up in 2016 to provide opportunities for displaced children in crisis – will launch on Thursday a programme for safe and reliable education for half a million children in Afghanistan, including more than 320,000 girls.

On 27 February, in CAR, the Government, ECW, and a coalition of partners, will also launch a new three-year education programme to reach an estimated 900,000 thousand children – half of whom are girls – to address the violence and displacement that had left nearly half a million children out of schools.

Both initiatives follow a programme that was launched in Uganda in September last year to help with the influx of South Sudanese refugees.

Responding to questions from journalists, Mr. Brown noted the success of double-shift schools in Lebanon, highlighting the fact that from the 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are now in school, almost 300,000 are in the double-shifts schools.

“They get their education in the afternoon, in Arabic, after the Lebanese children get their education in the morning in English and French, in the same class-room. It just proves that it is possible to use the existent education system already in place to provide schooling for children”, he explained.

Discussing the pressing funding requirements to address the needs of children trapped in humanitarian crises, the Special Envoy announced the launch of the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) which will serve 700 million children living in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of out-of-school and displaced children reside.

“The facility is advancing rapidly with a high-level event scheduled in April where prospective donors are expected to agree to constitute the new $10 billion fund this year,” Mr. Brown concluded.

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Not enough resettlement solutions for refugees worldwide, says UN

INTERNATIONAL, 19 February 2019, Migrants and Refugees - Despite record numbers of people forcibly displaced across borders, with 1.2 million in need of a new permanent place to call home last year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) released new data on Tuesday showing that only 55,700 of them – 4.7 per cent – were able to be resettled in 2018.

Resettlement, which involves the relocation of refugees from a country of asylum to a country that has agreed to admit them and grant them permanent settlement, is available only to a fraction of the world’s refugees. Typically, less than one per cent of the 20 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate worldwide are ever resettled.

The data covers specifically UNHCR-facilitated resettlements and shows that the highest numbers of resettlement departures originated in major refugee-hosting countries, including Lebanon (9,800), Turkey (9,000), Jordan (5,100) and Uganda (4,000).

Out of 81,310 requests for resettlement made by UNHCR in 2018, the largest number were for people from Syria (28,200), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (21,800), Eritrea (4,300) and Afghanistan (4,000).

More than two thirds of requests for resettlement were for survivors of violence and torture, people with legal and physical protection needs, and women and girls at risk. More than half of all resettlement submissions in 2018 were for children.

This year, it is estimated that 1.4 million refugees who are currently residing in 65 hosting countries worldwide, will need to be resettled. The vast majority are Syrian refugees (43 per cent), most of whom are currently hosted in countries across the Middle East and Turkey, and refugees hosted in asylum and transit countries along the Central Mediterranean route (22 per cent), where movements towards Europe continue to take a devastating toll on human life.

UNHCR explained in its statement that resettlement remains a “life-saving tool” as it is meant to ensure the protection of those most at risk. It is an “instrument of protection, and a tangible` mechanism for governments and communities across the world to share responsibility for responding to forced displacement crises”.

Resettlement and other complementary pathways for admission, is a key objective of the Global Compact on Refugees, adopted last December, to help reduce the impact of large refugee situations on host countries. The document calls for Member States to offer more resettlement solutions, by expanding existing programmes or establishing new ones.

The UN refugee agency is working with governments and other entities, to develop a three-year strategy on “Resettlement and Complementary Pathways” to help increase the pool of resettlement places, encourage more countries to participate in global resettlement efforts, and increase access to complementary pathways for refugees.

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UN rights chief ‘alarmed’ by upsurge in attacks against civilians in Syria’s Idlib

INTERNATIONAL, 19 February 2019, Human Rights - Civilians in Syria's north-western city of idlib continue to be used “as pawns”, caught in the crossfire of bombardments by the Government and its allies, and attacks by non-State armed groups, the United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warned on Tuesday.

Since December, the intensified ground-based bombardment of the city, located in the north-west of the country, coupled with a series of attacks by non-State actors, has led to numerous civilian casualties and left close to a million people, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people, in an extremely vulnerable situation, her statement explained.

“Large numbers of civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people, in Idlib and northern Aleppo are living an intolerable existence,” said Ms. Bachelet.

“They are trapped between the escalation of hostilities and bombardment on the one hand, and, on the other, are forced to live under the extremist rule of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and other extremist fighters who regularly carry out targeted killings, abductions and arbitrary detention.”

The High Commissioner called on “all parties involved, as well as external governments with influence, to ensure that the protection of civilians is held paramount in the planning and execution of all military operations in accordance with international law”.

Idlib and areas of northern Hama and western Aleppo governorates, are part of a “demilitarized buffer zone” but, for over two months, violence has escalated again, including an increase of infighting amongst non-State actors and in the use of improvised explosive devices in areas they control, including by the extremist group, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.

While the UN human rights office (OHCHR) notes that a comprehensive count of civilian casualties has not been possible, some of the most recent incidents include: 11 civilians killed and nine injured on 29 January following a ground-based bombardment in a residential and market area; 11 civilians killed by shelling in different areas on 12 February; at least nine killed and nine injured on 15 and 16 February in Khan Shaykun in southern Idlib; 16 civilians killed and more than 70 injured on Monday by two explosive devices in the Qusour neighbourhood of Idlib.

The list of fatalities includes a high number of women and children.

“I urge all the parties involved to, first and foremost, ensure that civilians themselves, and civilian infrastructure, are protected as required by international humanitarian and international human rights law,” the High Commissioner said.

"The principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must be fully respected, and military objects must not be placed in the vicinity of civilians,” she added.

Ms. Bachelet also expressed concern about the well-being of some 20,000 people who fled ISIL-controlled areas in eastern Deir-ez-Zor Governorate in recent weeks and are now being held in makeshift camps for displaced persons run by Kurdish armed groups.

According to OHCHR, these include the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are reported to be preventing IDPs from leaving the camps in what appears to amount to deprivation of liberty.

She added she remains “particularly concerned” about the situation of some 200 families, including many women and children, who are reportedly trapped in the tiny area still under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and are apparently being actively prevented from leaving by ISIL.

The UN rights chief said they “continue to be subjected to intensified air and ground-based strikes by the US-led coalition forces and their SDF allies on the ground”.

"Civilians continue to be used as pawns by the various parties,” Ms. Bachelet lamented, calling on responsible parties “to provide safe passage to those who wish to flee, while those wish to remain must also be protected as much as possible”.

“They should not be sacrificed to ideology on the one hand, or military expediency on the other. If protecting civilian lives means taking a few more days to capture the last fraction of land controlled by ISIL, then so be it," she stated.

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Myanmar and UN agriculture agency agree framework to improve nutrition and food security

INTERNATIONAL, 19 February 2019, Economic Development - The Myanmar Government and the UN’s agriculture agency signed on Tuesday a multi-year agreement that will create conditions to help improve nutrition and food security in the south-east Asian country, while safeguarding and sustainably managing the use of natural resources.

“The agriculture sector has a major role to play in addressing [the] sustained rates of food insecurity and malnutrition through agricultural diversification and rural income generation,” Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said at the launch of the accord in Nay Pyi Taw.

The Country Programming Framework (CPF) was signed by U Than Aung Kyaw, Director General, Foreign Economic Relations Department (FERD), Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER) and Ms Xiaojie Fan, FAO Representative in Myanmar.

The launch of the CPF follows intensive consultations and agreements with the Ministry of Planning and Finance and relevant line ministries, civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector and other development partners.

Specifically, the CPF intends to help the Government achieve three primary goals.

Enhanced food security, nutrition and food safety

Strengthened governance and sustainable management of land, forests, water resources and ecosystems

Enhanced resilience of local communities and farming households to natural and humanitarian disasters, climate change and transboundary and emerging infectious disease risks.

Despite having reached a state of self-sufficiency in staple foods, food insecurity, particularly seasonal food insecurity, remain a concern across Myanmar, which risks being worsened due to climate and weather-related shocks and instances of social instability. 

Myanmar had experienced a rapid decline in malnutrition figures in just a few decades. The prevalence of stunting among children below the age of five was reduced from around 40 per cent in the 1990’s to less than 30 per cent in 2016 but the improvements have since slowed.

“With nearly one child in three stunted much work remains to be done for Myanmar to achieve SDG-2, the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030,” said Ms. Kadiresan. “But the fact that the Government and FAO have produced and published this comprehensive framework sets us on a clear path forward.” 

“FAO is ready to do its part to help,” she added.

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UN rights chief ‘strongly condemns’ attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir

INTERNATIONAL, 19 February 2019, Human Rights - The top United Nations human rights official has strongly condemned the suicide bomb attack against Indian security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on 14 February and has called on authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

In Geneva on Tuesday, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the UN was also saddened by the further loss of life reported from subsequent gun battles in Pulwama yesterday, 18 February, which is reported to have claimed 9 more lives.

“We hope escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours will not add further to the insecurity in the region,” he said.

Mr. Colville said the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, is also concerned by reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities living in different parts of India.

“We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” he stressed.

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UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

INTERNATIONAL, 18 February 2019, Health - From smartphones to wedding rings, the hidden cost of everyday gold is its threat to human and environmental health, according to a new United Nations-driven initiative launched on Monday that aims to tackle mercury-based mining methods.

As gold production exposes millions of men, women and children globally to toxic levels of mercury every year, a new $180-million Global Environment Facility-backed Global Opportunities for the Long-term Development of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector (GEF GOLD) programme will improve conditions for miners across eight countries while slashing harmful mercury emissions.

“The widespread use of mercury in the artisanal and small-scale sector affects the environment and people, particularly in developing countries” said Philippe Scholtès, the UN Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) Managing Director of Programme Development and Technical Cooperation.

The ASGM, which accounts for 20 per cent of the world’s annual gold production, is the single largest source of man-made mercury emissions, responsible for releasing of as much as 1,000 tonnes of mercury to the atmosphere annually.

“Mercury emissions impact health and ecosystems, contaminating the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe,” explained Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment (UNEP). “This is a long-term problem we need to confront now” to protect health, provide livelihoods and save the planet, she added.

Moreover, some 15 million people work in the ASGM sector, including 4.5 million women and over 600,000 children. 

“By phasing out mercury use and connecting miners to markets for responsibly produced and sourced minerals, GEF GOLD will help to ensure the gold value chain both supports miners and provides consumers with access to ethically produced, environmentally sustainable gold,” said Jacob Duer, Head of UNEP’s Chemicals and Health branch.

Working on the edge

To sate the appetite for gold for jewelry, investment and consumer products, miners and processors often work in harsh conditions without industry protections on pay, health or safety, with many relying on toxic, mercury-based extraction methods.

“It is important to transform the extremely harmful practice using mercury in ASGM to protect the human health and ecosystem,” stressed Abdoulaye Mar Dieye,  UN Nations Development Programme, (UNDP) Director of the Policy and Programme Support Bureau.

Studies indicate that ASGM mercury exposure is a major, largely neglected global health problem that put miners and their communities at risk of brain damage; vision and hearing loss; and delayed childhood development.

While ASGM offers employment for rural populations, miners frequently operate on the edges of legality, with ASGM either banned outright or limited by legislation. GEF GOLD intends to secure miners’ livelihoods by supporting regulatory and policy reforms to formalize ASGM across the programme countries – opening market and finance access to increase incomes and enable mercury-free technology.

Additionally, the GEF GOLD programme will work with the private sector to promote compliance with international standards on responsible mineral supply chains.

Spanning eight countries, the five-year programme is a partnership between UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, the Global Environment Facility, Conservation International and the governments of Burkina Faso, Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, the Philippines and Peru. 

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Central African Republic: UNICEF outlines key actions so fresh peace deal can make real difference for children

INTERNATIONAL, 18 February 2019, Peace and Security - Hailing the recent peace agreement signed by 15 warring parties in the Central African Republic (CAR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed on Monday that “now is the time for action” and outlined concrete steps that armed groups, judicial authorities and the Government can take so the future of millions of children can be safeguarded.

“The peace agreement signed by the Government of the Central African Republic and other parties to the conflict is a welcome step towards lasting peace and the hope of a better future for the country’s children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement.

“We particularly welcome commitments to protect children’s rights and put an end to grave violations against children, but commitments are not enough. Now is the time for action,” she added, regretting that “for too long, violence, instability and chronic underdevelopment have devastated children’s lives in the Central African Republic”.

She listed three “concrete steps that can help translate the peace agreement into meaningful action for children” affected by six years of brutal conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis:

  • parties to the conflict to release all children who were enrolled or associated with armed groups;
  • the judicial system to treat children arrested or detained due to their association with armed groups as children and victims first, and to ensure that their rights are upheld;
  • the Government to adopt as soon as possible the Child Protection Code and to align the country’s juvenile justice system with international standards.

Since conflict began in CAR in 2012, due to fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition, thousands of civilians have been killed and two out of three people became dependent on humanitarian aid. Children have been particularly affected, according to the UN children’s agency: one in four is displaced within the landlocked country or in neighbouring countries, and millions remain out-of-school, malnourished and vulnerable to disease, abuse and exploitation.

Peace talks started on 24 January this year and an agreement was reached 10 days later under the auspices of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR, led by the African Union (AU), with the UN’s support. The deal was formally signed on 6 February.

“UNICEF stands ready to support national efforts to help children affected by the conflict and is hopeful that this agreement will be a fundamental step towards long-lasting peace for the country’s children,” said Ms. Fore.

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In West Africa, UN Security Council visits Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau

INTERNATIONAL, 16 February 2019, Peace and Security - Members of the United Nations Security Council are on a mission to West Africa where they are reviewing strides made in peacebuilding by both Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau.

Arriving Thursday 14 February in the Ivoirian capital, Abidjan, Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea, Council President and co-lead of the mission along with Côte d’Ivoire, and the Council delegation, met with Foreign Minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh and Vice-President Daniel Kablan Duncan.

The Council also participated in a roundtable on the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding with United Nations Resident Coordinators in Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring Liberia.

Côte d'Ivoire has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since the beginning of 2018. The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) closed in June 2017, after 13 years deployed in the country which was plunged into instability from 1999 to 2011. The end of UNOCI's mandate was hailed as a UN peacekeeping success.

At a press conference on Friday, the Representative of Côte d'Ivoire to the UN and co-lead of the Council mission, Leon Kacou Adom, said the visit had provided an opportunity to exchange experiences and information, including on best practices on transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, among representatives of Member States, Ivorian authorities and experts from UN country teams in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia.

“At a time when United Nations peacekeeping operations are at a crossroads, and in a context marked by the reform launched by Secretary-General António Guterres, it is clear that the Security Council, which is in charge of peacekeeping and international security, should highlight successful experiences in this regard, in this case in Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia,” he stressed.

Didier Bapidi/UNIOGBIS
Security Council delegation arrives at Osvaldo Vieira International Airport in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, 15 February 2019.

 Legislative elections on March 10 in Guinea Bissau

The Council delegation flew Friday afternoon to Guinea Bissau, kicking of the second leg of its visit to West Africa. The purpose of this visit was to monitor and evaluate the crisis resolution process in this country.

Legislative elections are scheduled for March 10, 2019 in Guinea Bissau. They are to be followed by a presidential election whose date has not been set.

During the visit, the delegation met with Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, UN Deputy Special Representative David McLachlan-Karr, as well as representatives of partner organizations involved in the peacebuilding process in Guinea Bissau, according to a Twitter post by the UN Department of Political Affairs and Peacebuilding.

The delegation also met with the Speaker of the National Assembly, the leaders of political parties, the President of the National Electoral Commission, the President of the Supreme Court and representatives of civil society. It also met with President José Mario Vaz.

After more meetings in Guinea-Bissau, the Council delegation will head back to New York later on Sunday 17 February.

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‘Endemic’ sexual violence surging in South Sudan: UN human rights office

INTERNATIONAL, 15 February 2019, Human Rights - A surge in sexual violence in South Sudan’s Unity state targeting victims as young as eight years old, has prompted a call from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, for urgent Government measures to protect victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.

Despite the signing of a peace deal between belligerents last September, UN investigators found that at least 175 women and girls have been raped or suffered other sexual and physical violence between September and December 2018.

If we go by the main road we are raped, if we go by the bush, we are raped. I was raped among others in the same area repeatedly – testimony to UN investigators

The actual level of violence is likely to be considerably higher, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva on Friday.

“Obviously (it is) not the whole picture, but they found 175, women and girls who had been either raped, gang-raped or sexually assaulted or physically harmed in other ways,” he said. “And 49 of those girls who were raped, were children.”

According to a joint report by OHCHR and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), attacks against women have decreased significantly since the peace accord was signed on 12 September.

Nonetheless, it warns that such incidents are “endemic” in northern Unity state, on the border with Sudan, creating a sense among communities that it is normal to be a victim of sexual violence.

Victim’s testimony recalls recurring attacks 

Citing the testimony of one victim, Mr. Colville explained that many women are raped while fetching firewood, food or water - often more than once – as they lack any protection.

“She said, ‘If we go by the main road we are raped, if we go by the bush, we are raped. I was raped among others in the same area repeatedly on three separate occasions.”

The surge in conflict-related sexual violence is attributed to many factors including the breakdown in the rule of law, the destruction of livelihoods, forced displacement and food insecurity, after years of civil war.

Large numbers of armed young men, a ‘toxic mix’

But one of the main reasons is the large number of fighters in the area, who have yet to be reintegrated into the national army, according to the peace deal.

Most of the attacks are reported to have been carried out by youth militia groups and elements of the pro-Taban Deng Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition, SPLA-IO (TD), as well as South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF). 

In a few cases, attacks were perpetrated by members of the group affiliated with reinstated Vice President and peace deal participant, Riek Machar, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO (RM), the UN report says.

“Particularly in this area, there are essentially three main groups who…are involved in these rapes, including the National Government force,” said Mr. Colville. “And a lot of these young men who are heavily armed, are just waiting around…This is a very toxic mix, and there are also youth militia which some of these official groups ally with and you don’t know exactly who they are; they’ve been heavily involved as well.”

Rule of law 'just not applied'

A key challenge is tackling the prevailing impunity throughout Unity state, which is linked to the volatility of the situation across the country, OHCHR maintains.

“There’s been very little accountability in South Sudan for what is chronic, endemic problem of sexual violence against women and girls,” Mr. Colville said. “Virtually complete impunity over the years, as a result, very little disincentive for these men not to do what they’re doing. The rule of law has just not been applied.”

Mobile courts provide glimmer of hope for victims

Among the practical measures taken to a bid to help vulnerable communities in Unity state, UNMISS has cleared roadsides to prevent attackers from hiding from potential victims.

A mobile court system is also operational in towns, including Bentiu, which has had “some success” in bringing perpetrators to trial, OHCHR’s Mr. Colville said, noting nonetheless that “this is just a drop in the ocean”.

“There are thousands and thousands of perpetrators, there are officers involved, there are commanders who’ve got command responsibility who instead of being investigated and brought to book…have been promoted, and are still in charge of groups operating in this area who are still raping women,” he concluded.

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‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

INTERNATIONAL, 15 February 2019, Law and Crime Prevention - As Nigerians get ready to head to the polls on Saturday, the Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), described the pre-election period as “largely, peaceful and participatory”, and called for that spirit to prevail through election day and beyond.

In a statement on Friday, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, encouraged all Nigerians to “continue to maintain calm and to exercise patience and restraint throughout the voting process and the announcement of the final results”.

As President Muhammadu Buhari aims to extend his time in office, after victory four years ago – when, for the first-time ever, an opposition candidate defeated a sitting president – former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has emerged as his main challenger, according to news reports.

Adhere to the tenets of free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible elections – UN envoy

Mr. Chambas welcomed the candidates’ signing on Wednesday of the second National Peace Accord, which aims to keep the vote peaceful and ensure a non-violent transfer of power, and urged them to “seek redress of any grievances they may have through legal and constitutional means”.

He pressed the candidates to "mobilize" their supporters to “adhere to the tenets of free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible elections, devoid of hate and denigration of each other”.

“Firmly reject all undemocratic and negative voices that may seek to disrupt the elections and promote conflict between Nigerians”, he said, while encouraging voters in Africa’s most-populous democracy to exercise their civic responsibility and come out “in numbers” to peacefully cast their votes.

The Special Representative said that success at the polls was “the responsibility of all Nigerians and relevant Nigerian institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, political parties, candidates, religious leaders, civil society”.  

While calling on all participants to “prioritize the interest of the country”, the UNOWAS head expressed his hopes that the continent’s largest economy will successfully conduct free, fair and transparent elections that will “set an example for the elections coming up in West Africa and Africa, and underscore Nigeria’s leadership in the region”.

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