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Thirty-five African migrants die, dozens missing as makeshift boat capsizes off Libya

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The United Nations Migration Agency says at least 35 African migrants have died while others are still missing after their makeshift boat capsized on Saturday off the Libyan coast.

The International Organization for Migration (IMO) which also confirmed the incident, said it took place off the western Libyan city of Sabratha, “a major launching point for the mainly African migrants making the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.”

The IOM, in a statement on Sunday morning, said so far, bodies of six migrants were pulled out, while 29 others were still missing and “presumed dead.”

“The tragedy is the latest to involve migrants departing from North Africa to seek a better life in Europe. This past week alone, at least 53 migrants were reported dead or presumed dead off Libya,” the IOM said.

“Dedicated search and rescue capacity and a safe disembarkation mechanism are urgently needed to prevent further deaths and suffering,” the body added.

The UN Immigration Agency said investigations by its top human rights body found evidence of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya against migrants detained in government-run prisons and at the hands of human traffickers.

“Earlier this month, more than 90 people in an overcrowded boat drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, days after they left Libya.

“Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores. The country has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

“Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across the oil-rich country’s lengthy borders with six nations. The migrants are then typically packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and set off on risky sea voyages.

“At least 476 migrants died along the central Mediterranean route between January 1 and April 11,” the Agency said.

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Ukraine’s donation of food aid to Nigeria a national disgrace— Peter Obi

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, has faulted the donation of 25,000 tons of wheat as food aid to Nigeria, describing the donation as a “national disgrace” stemming from years of leadership failure.

The Nigerian government had announced that the war-torn European country had made the donation as a part of its contribution to help Nigeria tackle the food crisis that has affected millions of people in the county, especially in the
northeast.

The government had stated that donation was to bolster the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) response in north-eastern Nigeria amidst inflation and food price spikes and part of Ukraine’s humanitarian “Grain from Ukraine” initiative launched by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

But while the government celebrated the donation, Obi, a former Governor, has condemned the development, insisting that if Nigeria governments at all level had embarked on an aggressive investment in agriculture as well as security and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), the embarrassment of the donation would not have come up.

Obi who expressed his disapproval of the donation in a statement he posted on his verified X account it was disheartening that a country like Nigeria with so much human and natural resources should celebrate such donations.

“As laudable as Ukraine’s kind gesture is, it speaks volumes for us as a people endowed with all needed human and natural resources, that a country officially prosecuting a brutal war of national survival with its powerful neighbour, Russia, is generous and kind enough with their food supplies to help us who are officially at peace,” Obi said.

“For the people of Ukraine, this act of human solidarity testifies to a rare generosity of spirit which should earn them greater global solidarity. It demonstrates our shared humanity.

“However, a situation like this underscores vigorously the importance of sound political leadership as the first concrete requirement for any nation desiring to develop and enhance the standard of living of its citizenry.

“It is disheartening that our once economically confident nation, blessed with vast arable land and abundant natural resources, now relies on a war-torn Ukraine for food assistance.

“This national disgrace stems from years of leadership failure, necessitating urgent reflection and a reordering of our national priorities and resource management and allocation.

“Instructively, Ukraine, with a population of 43 million on 603,728 km2, outshines Northern Nigeria, covering 744,249 km2 with a young, energetic population exceeding 100 million.

“In 2015, Ukraine’s GDP per capita was $2125, compared to Nigeria’s $2680. By 2022, despite being at war, Ukraine’s GDP per capita exceeded $4000, while Nigeria’s regressed to $2184.

“Ukraine cultivates over 60 per cent of its arable land, whereas Nigeria has over 60 per cent uncultivated arable land.

“Despite the conflict, Ukraine feeds itself, and exports agricultural products worth over $25 billion which is about the same value as our crude oil export earnings, and it serves as a strategic global food supplier, even providing aid to a peaceful yet unproductive Nigeria.

“To overcome this embarrassment, we must aggressively reorder our priorities by investing resources in productive sectors like agriculture. Addressing insecurity is crucial for farmers to return to their fields, enabling a productive manufacturing sector and supporting small businesses,” the former presidential hopeful said.

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Zambian opposition party LM demands sack of Agric Minister

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One of Zambia’s opposition parties, Leadership Movement (LM), has called for the immediate dismissal of the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Mtolo Phiri, over alleged incompetence and for misleading President Hakainde Hichilema.

LM Secretary-General, Jairos Ngoma, who addressed a press conference in Lusaka,
said Phiri had been lying to Hichilema over the status of the agriculture sector in the face of climate change.

Ngoma alleged that the minister lied to the president, claiming that farming inputs had been distributed on time countrywide when no such items had been distributed.

Ngoma stated that farmers had been sharing fertilizer distributed to them in various parts of the country and that the commodity was not distributed on time as promised.

“Mr. President, you are a farmer and people in Eastern Province who have been sharing fertilizer voted for you in numbers knowing that you understand them as you a farmer yourself,” Ngoma stated.

He went on to accuse the United Capital Fertiliser claiming that the company was exporting the commodity to Botswana instead of distributing it to farmers in line with an agreement it had with government.

He said as a result, farmers have resorted to sharing the fertilizer in “medas” across the country because what was meant for them was being sold.

“This company is a subsidiary of China; it’s taking fertiliser to Botswana, 15,000 metric tonnes and later it is taking it to Dar es Salaam,” he alleged.

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