Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ECOWAS donates N43m for Nigeria's flood victims

ECOWAS doles out N43m to flood victims in Nigeria
Countless victims of flooding in different parts of the country should soon enjoy succour, following a huge financial support from the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Commission.
According to a press release, No. 169/2010 issued by ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja on 26 October 2010; President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, “in support of victims of the recent floods in the country which have displaced over two million people and caused substantial damages to farmland and other property”; presented a cheque of US$291,000 (over N43million) to the Government of Nigeria in Abuja on Monday, 25 October. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman, received the cheque on behalf of the Nigerian Government.
This latest gesture follows an earlier (mid-July 2010) donation by ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Red Cross, of various items valued at US$100,000 (roughly N15million) to victims of the Jos crisis in central Nigeria, which reportedly claimed over 500 lives and displaced some 5,000 people.
At a brief presentation ceremony, Ambassador Gbeho, who described the amount as symbolic, explained; “We realize that the needs of the State to cater for the victims of this catastrophe go beyond what we are offering you. But, this is a way the ECOWAS Commission shows its support and assistance to the affected population at their point of need”.
Gbeho added that the ECOWAS Commission had begun to demonstrate, by providing assistance, “which goes directly to touch the lives of the affected population during times of crisis”. This, he intoned, is proof that the ECOWAS Vision 2020, which aims at morphing from an “ECOWAS of States” to an “ECOWAS of peoples”, was not mere slogan.
Hear Ambassador Gbeho: “The ECOWAS Commission is developing durable strategies and solutions to respond to catastrophes in Member States, thereby moving away from an ad-hoc response to a more coordinated approach that will guarantee effective response to victims of crises and disasters in Member States”.
The Commission’s President went on to add that ECOWAS is assisting Member States to establish and identify national platforms and focal institutions on emergency management and response in Member States as well as to strengthen existing ones. According to him, these platforms would be equipped to enhance their capacity to respond to crisis and emergencies, either by themselves or in collaboration with other Member States and international organizations.
Furthermore, the Commission is in the process of developing a humanitarian policy and response mechanism to guarantee comprehensive and efficient regional approach to emergency management and response, Gbeho revealed. Referring to the ECOWAS Humanitarian Depot in Bamako, Mali; the Commission’s President, said the depot; when completed, would complement other efforts to facilitate prompt delivery of relief materials to victims of humanitarian emergencies in the region.
While lauding the efforts of the Nigerian Government, Ambassador Gbeho urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to synergize with other bodies in the region and assist in building capacities of relevant agencies with lesser aptitude to deal with emergency situations.
In her response, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Alhaja Sulaiman, while expressing appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission for the “laudable humanitarian gesture”; rued that “these are very hard and trying times for Nigeria”. She, however, subsequently assured that the donation would be judiciously used to assist families and communities affected by the floods.
The Under Secretary (Africa) in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Adamu Abbas; Director, ECOWAS Division, Mr. Babatunde Nurudeen; NEMA Director-General, Mr. Muhammed Sani Sidi as well as select foreign service and NEMA top officials witnessed the presentation ceremony. Others, who attended the event, include ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop; the ECOWAS Director for Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Daniel Eklu and Acting Director of Communication, Mr. Sunny Ugoh.

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