People left behind receive orientation to new HIV treatment target

UNAIDS-logo-FFADFA3139-seeklogo_comA one-day workshop for people left behind by the HIV response in Nigeria is underway today to orient participants to the new ambitious treatment target – the 90-90-90 – and how best it can be achieved by 2020.

The workshop organised by UNAIDS will allow the people left behind and stakeholders supporting the HIV response to share ideas on innovative ways of getting more people counselled, tested and placed on treatment in Nigeria.

“The aim of this workshop is to give people left behind in Nigeria a meaningful role in ensuring that they understand, they own and they drive the achievement of the 90-90-90 target by 2020. This is the only way that will put Nigeria on the path of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Dr Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS).

The workshop, which is taking place in Abuja, has attracted a spectrum of representatives of people left behind, among others the vulnerable women and girls.

A special workshop will also take place for Nigerian adolescents on the 90-90-90 target. Adolescents are a major group left behind by the national HIV response.

Participants at the workshop also include representatives of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCP), the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), civil society organisations, United Nations Agencies, and development partners supporting the HIV response in Nigeria like PEPFAR, USAID, CDC and the AIDS Health Care Foundation.

The 90-90-90 treatment target was launched at a high-level political session of the 20th International AIDS Conference held in July 2014 in Melbourne, Australia, when the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, called for a new set of treatment targets by 2020. The target involves ensuring that:

  • 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status;
  • 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and
  • 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral load suppression.

Students shocked to see relics of slave trade as UNIC Lagos takes slavery remembrance to Slave Port

Single shotThe setting was in Badagry, a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated Slave Trade Route and widely noted as a key port in the export of slaves to the Americas. A walk through the semi-urban historic town revealed a vivid reflections of the place the town occupies in the tragic history of Slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Interestingly, the community boasts of several slave trade museums, most of which are private, established by families whose forefathers were direct victims of slavery or collaborators of slave traders.

Badagry was, no doubt, a perfect location to commemorate the International Day of remembrance of victims of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade commemorated every 25 March. The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in partnership with African Rennaisance Foundation, organised series of activities to mark the day. These included Arts Exhibition on the 2015 theme: ‘Women and Slavery’; screening of ‘They are we’ film; students’ briefing; awareness rally; slave dance/cultural display and visits to two Slave Trade Museums and the Slave Port.Slave dance - cultural display

“This year’s Day of Remembrance, according to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, “pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. … Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten.”Rally 2

Students, youths and women clad in UNIC- ‘Remember Slavery’ branded T-shirts and Headbands/Bandana, had gathered at the Badagry Town Hall as early as 8.30 in the morning ready to storm the streets of the ancient town to sensitise the inhabitants about the gory history of slavery and the need to avoid modern slavery. Singing anti-slavery songs, the crowd snaked through the streets and made the first stop at Mobee Slave Trade museum rich in relics of slavery such as the ankles and neck shackles; the mouth locks; the Canons; etc. A student of Methodist Grammar School, Badagry who attempted to carry the neck shackles screamed on realising the weight which the curator said to be about 100kg. The students were shocked about the fact that it was meant to be put on a human’s neck.Exhibition - Seyi as Curator

The next stop was at Seriki Faremi Williams Abass Slave Museum where the students and other participants inspected the slave cells, and had the ankle shackles demonstrated. Recounting his experience after volunteering to be ankle-locked with the Executive Director of African Rennaisance Foundation Hon. Babatunde Mesewaku, the National Information Officer of UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, said it was physically painful and mentally disturbing as there was no freedom of movement, no freedom from violence and very traumatic. When the ankle locks were removed few minutes after, it left a ‘Bangle mark’ on the ankles.

Oluseyi Soremekun volunteers to be ankle-locked

Oluseyi Soremekun volunteers to be ankle-locked

At the briefing and discussion session attended by the paramount ruler of Badagry, His Majesty, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I (OFR,LL.D, D.Litt, JP), The Akran of Badagry Kingdom who was represented by His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry, the message of the UN Secretary General (SG) was delivered in English and Yoruba Languages by UNIC Lagos National Information Officer.

 

In his message, Ki-moon noted that ‘tragically, slavery has still not ended’ as it ‘stubbornly persists in many parts of the world, in the form of forced labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation or captivity in slavery-like conditions.’  He observed that those despicable practices could not exist without deep-seated racism; and underscored the importance of educateing people about the Transatlantic slave trade and how intolerance could easily shift from an attitude into acts of hatred and violence.

Oluseyi Soremekun attempts the neck shackles

Oluseyi Soremekun attempts the neck shackles

Screening of the film, 'They are we'

Screening of the film, ‘They are we’

The SG therefore, called for ‘a renewal of our commitment to end modern slavery, so our children will live in a world free of racism and prejudice with equal opportunity and rights for all.’

Speaking, the Executive Director of African Rennaisance Foundation, Hon. Babatunde Mesewaku, provided a historical insight into Slave Trade in Badagry and urged the students and other participants to remember slavery and shun all acts capable of bringing back the sad memory of the slave trade era.

In his address to the audience, His Majesty, De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, The Akran of Badagry Kingdom, urged parents who were in the habit of giving out their children to other people to raise because of poverty should desist from such act as those children ended up being subjected to slavery-like conditions.

His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry speaks

His Honour, High Chief (Dr) Owheton Ahumbe II, the Agoloto of Badagry speaks

De Wheno Aholu Menu-Toyi I, The Akran of Badagry Kingdom, urged parents who were in the habit of giving out their children to other people to raise because of poverty should desist from such act as those children ended up being subjected to slavery-like conditions.

Nigerian and Zambian students called for empowerment of women to end modern day Slavery

seyi and the students 2

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, moderates the discussion

Nigerian and Zambian students have unanimously called for the empowerment of women as one of the ways of ending modern day slavery where girls are the target. ‘When poverty is eradicated amongst women, they would be less vulnerable’, they explained during an interactive video conference.

The interaction through WebEx connection between the   United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and UNIC Lusaka, was facilitated by the United Nations (UN) Department of Public Information (DPI), New York, as a prelude to the observance of the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade which comes up on Wednesday 25 March 2015.

A student of Intesida Schools contributing to discussion

A student of Intesida Schools contributing to discussion

Discussing the 2015 theme, ‘Women and Slavery’, the students emphasized the need for governments across the world to strengthen anti-slavery agencies as well as regulatory bodies in charge of labour force, paying attention to workers’ welfare and safety in work places.

The students identified human trafficking, abduction of girls, forced labour, child labour, forced marriage, among others, as examples of modern day slavery.

A student from Southfield Academy contributing to discussion

A student from Southfield Academy contributing to discussion

During her intervention, the Chief of Programme Support Section, Information Centres Services, DPI, New York, Ms Danielle Loff, told the students that modern day slavery was not peculiar to Nigeria, Zambia or the African continent, but also happened in other continents of the world. She expressed her delight that through the discussion, the students were better informed about those things that could lead to their enslavement and therefore would be on guard when confronted with such a situation.

A teacher from Intesida Schools speaking

A teacher from Intesida Schools speaking

Earlier, the Public Information Officer for the Programme Support Section, , DPI, New York, and the Desk Officer for UN Information Centres/Services/Offices in Africa, Europe and the Arab states, Mr Newton Kanhema, welcomed the students from both countries and initiated talk on UN@70 shortly before the commencement of the session on ‘Women and Slavery’.

A cross-section of the students

A cross-section of the students

The session, moderated jointly by the National Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun and his counterpart in UNIC Lusaka, Charles Nonde, was attended by selected students from Intesida Schools, Alagbado Lagos and Southfield Academy, Bariga Lagos.

A cross-section of the students

A cross-section of the students

Last year, similar WebEx session was organized by the DPI New York headquarters during which UNIC Lagos was paired with UNIC Harare as part of activities to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Ki-moon calls for global stance against assault on women’s human rights as UNIC Lagos marks IWD

SpeaksThe United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has called for a clear global stance against incessant assault on women’s human rights. ‘The international community needs to translate its outrage into meaningful action, including humanitarian aid, psycho-social services, support for livelihoods, and efforts to bring perpetrators to justice,’ he continued.

The Secretary General made this call in his message on the occasion of the 2015 International Women’s Day (IWD) commemoration organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos in collaboration with Women Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Lagos.Cross section 2

Ki-moon noted further in his message presented by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun, that with women and girls often the first targets of attack, their rights must be at the centre of strategy to address this growing challenge. ‘Empowered women and girls are the best hope for sustainable development following conflict,’ he added.

L-R: Oluseyi Soremekun; Deputy Governor Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Adefulire; WODEF Coordinator, Bimbo Oloyede and a Special Adviser to the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Ms Akiyode

R-L: Oluseyi Soremekun; Deputy Governor Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Adefulire; WODEF Coordinator, Bimbo Oloyede and a Special Adviser to the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Ms Akiyode

In his message on the occasion, the Executive Director of UNFPA, Prof Babatunde Oshotimehim, acknowledged that ‘when a woman can exercise her reproductive rights, she is better able to enjoy other freedoms and opportunities—from education to employment to full participation.’ He explained further in the message delivered by Dr Amaka Aruna, a Programme Officer at UNFPA Lagos that UNFPA would continue to provide strong support for the rights of women and girls, gender equality and universal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Earlier, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Adefulire-Orelope enjoined the audience made up of mainly female secondary school students, to remain focus on their vision and to resist any attempt by anybody to kill their vision. She charged the audience to always strive for excellence and be committed to serving their communities and the nation.

Lagos State Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Adefulire addresses the audience

Lagos State Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Adefulire addresses the audience

In her remarks, the Coordinator of WODEF, Mrs Bimbo Oloyede noted that women had played a vital role as agents of development. From food security to the boardroom and from the theatre to infrastructure, women are making it happen and contributing their quota towards socio-economic development, gender equality, women’s empowerment, women’s right and eradication of poverty.

A drama presentation by student participants

A drama presentation by student participants

The observance was attended by over 400 people including students and teachers from sixteen secondary schools in Lagos state; the media and the civil society.

2015 Elections: UNIC and partners hold women seminar, charge mothers to speak against electoral violence

Seyi speaksIn strengthening the support of the United Nations system to the Nigerian Government for a violence-free elections, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in partnership with Media Awareness and Information for All Network (MAIN) and West African Women Association (WAWA) has organised a women sensitisation and interactive forum titled, ‘Mothers Speak – 2015 Elections: Say No to violence’.

Speaking on the occasion, the UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, charged the women to speak out against electoral violence. ‘In a situation of violence’, he continued, ‘women and children are the worst hit, therefore, women should raise their voices to say ‘No’ to violence and demand for peace before, during and after the general elections.’Cross-section of participants 1

The National Information Officer added that no nation could thrive and develop in an atmosphere of violence and conflict. He called on mothers to caution their children and discourage their husbands from getting involved in acts of violence.

OrganisersDelivering a keynote message on the occasion, the Executive Director of Women in Politics and Government (WINPOGOV), Barrister (Ms) Obiageli Obi, called on women to join hands to promote peace and tolerance, love and respect in homes, work places, in the media and everywhere. ‘Let us openly condemn violence wherever we see it perpetrated regardless of who is doing so. We have nothing to lose by so doing, but everything to lose by keeping silent, she added.

Explaining the rationale behind the programme, the Team Leader of Media Awareness and Information for All Network (MAIN), Mr Wole Aboyade, acknowledged the critical role of women in the society and the urgent need for their voices to be heard in the call for violence-free elections. He reiterated that women had the power to douse the political tension if they spoke out. ‘A mother’s voice is powerful and tingling in the ears of her children and pleasing in the hearts of her husband.’ Aboyade added.keynote speaker.jpg2

In her message, the Focal Person of West African Women Association (WAWA), Mrs Beatrice Ubeku, noted that there was something special about women’s voices and actions. She continued that ‘dropping our voice at this moment is not doing us good. Let us make a clear statement about our thoughts and what we want. Let us raise our voice in one accord to say mothers stand for violence-free and free and fair elections’

MAIN team leader speaksEarlier, the ‘Mothers Speak’ advocate, Mr Louis Obasi, had explained that ‘Mothers Speak’ was not a one day programme that ends today, but a beginning of a process towards problem solving, with the voices of women as mothers making a difference in the sustenance of an enduring and peaceful democracy.

Group pixSeventy-nine women and eight men from ten Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the media attended the programme held at the Library Auditorium of the United Nations Information Centre, (UNIC) Lagos.

UN does more than peacekeeping – University students told

Seyi speaks 1Within the framework of educational outreach programmes of the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI), the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun has asserted that “The United Nations (UN) does more than peace keeping and being a forum for conflict resolution.”

He acknowledged that the UN was known for peace keeping though, but since inception 70 years ago, the organisation had continued to address emerging challenges such as international terrorism; Child survival and development; Environmental protection; Human rights; Health and education.”Seyi speaks

He made this assertion while addressing over 500 students on ‘The United Nations and Third World Development’, being the Guest Speaker at the ‘Town-Gown seminar’ organised by the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, South-West Nigeria.

Other challenges the UN is addressing, according to him, include Alleviation of poverty and economic development; Agricultural development and fisheries; Advancement of women; Emergency and disaster relief; Air and sea travel; Peaceful uses of atomic energy; Workers’ rights; among others.

Soremekun explained that apart from the role the UN played in bringing about independence in more than 80 countries that are now sovereign nations, over 500 multilateral treaties on human rights, terrorism, international crime, refugees, disarmament, commodities and the oceans have been enacted through the efforts of the United Nations.Seyi speaks 5

The National Information Officer stressed that one of the most robust frameworks that addressed third world development to date was the UN-led Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to him, as at 2014, 700 million people had been lifted from extreme poverty; more than 170 million people no longer suffer from hunger; 17,000 children saved everyday and 6.6 million lives saved by access and use of antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected people.Cross-section

Speaking, the Head of Department of Political Science and International Relations of the University, Dr Duruji, acknowledged that the seminar was instructive and educational, providing an insight into the efforts of the United Nations in helping the third world countries.

During the interactive session, the students raised questions about the efforts of the UN concerning the insurgency in the North-Eastern part of the country; clarifications about the UN system; Peacekeeping operations and job and internship opportunity in the United Nations.

 

Security Council Press Statement on ISIL’s Destruction of Religious and Cultural Artifacts in Mosul

 

UN Logo - 1The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the ongoing barbaric terrorist acts in Iraq by ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] (Da’esh), including: the abduction of 100 Sunni tribesmen from outside Tikrit on February 25; the immolation of 45 Iraqis in Baghdadi on February 17; ongoing daily attacks targeting civilians in Baghdad; and the deliberate destruction of irreplaceable religious and cultural artifacts housed in the Mosul Museum and burning of thousands of books and rare manuscripts from the Mosul Library (SC/11437).
The members of the Security Council reiterated their condemnation of the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, particularly by ISIL, including targeted destruction of religious sites and objects, and noted with concern that ISIL and other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida are generating income from engaging directly or indirectly in the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites in Iraq and Syria, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks (UNSCR 2199).

The members of the Security Council stressed again that ISIL must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence, and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.  The members of the Council further emphasized that such continued acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL do not intimidate them, but rather stiffen their resolve and stressed that there has to be a common effort amongst Governments and institutions, including those in the region most affected, to counter ISIL, as the Council resolved in United Nations Security Council resolutions 2161 (2014), 2170 (2014) and 2199 (2015), and underscored the need for their full and immediate implementation by all member states. (SC/11625 and 11799)

The members of the Security Council reiterated that no act of violence or terrorism can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, underpinned by the rule of law and respect for human rights, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community.  They reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law. (based on SC/11799)

 

Ki-moon condemns Boko Haram attacks against civilians in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria

Ban Ki-moonThe Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, reiterates his strong condemnation of the continuing indiscriminate and horrific attacks by Boko Haram against civilian populations in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.  The abduction and use of children, including as “suicide bombers”, is particularly abhorrent.
The Secretary-General is encouraged by the positive steps taken by the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Benin, with the support of the African Union, towards operationalizing the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to counter the threat posed by Boko Haram in the sub-region. He calls on international partners to provide support to these regional efforts.     The Secretary-General urges the states involved to ensure that all measures taken to combat the terrorist threat of Boko Haram are conducted in line with international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law. He is concerned by the impact of combat operations on local populations in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria and calls on countries of the region to give the highest priority to the protection of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons, including by providing them with life-saving support. The United Nations is scaling up its humanitarian operations and increasing its human rights monitoring in the affected countries.   The Secretary-General is convinced that a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency. Only through a multi-dimensional approach that addresses legitimate grievances, past and current human rights violations, and root causes of the conflict, will we be able to effectively respond to the barbaric threat posed by Boko Haram to regional peace and security and to local populations.

UNAIDS hails signing of Nigeria’s Anti-Discrimination law

UNAIDS-logo-FFADFA3139-seeklogo_comAs the world commemorates the Zero Discrimination Day on Sunday 1st March 2015, UNAIDS expresses its full support of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s commitment to ending stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV.

I would like to thank the National Assembly for crafting the humanly sensitive bill and the President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Anti-Discrimination law. This law is a big boost to improving Nigeria’s AIDS response because it gives back human rights and dignity to people living with or affected by HIV and ensures that the country ends the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said the UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Bilali Camara.

The HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act 2014 makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their HIV status. Among other issues, it also prohibits any employer, individual or organization from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services.

It is hoped that the new law will create a more supportive environment, allowing people living with and affected by HIV to carry on their lives as normally as possible in the society and the work places.

More than three million people are living with HIV in Nigeria although the country has made great strides in its AIDS response in the past five years. The number of HIV infections in Nigeria declined by 35% and the country is now pursuing efforts to stop new infections altogether. The number of sites providing services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV increased from 675 in 2010 to 5,622 in 2013.

UNAIDS is working with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)  and other  authorities to ensure that anyone living with HIV receives treatment, care and support services in dignity.

With this new Anti-Discrimination law, I am confident that Nigeria will be able to accelerate the AIDS response dramatically in the coming months. And as we, the human family, commemorate the Zero Discrimination Day 2015, I would like to urge religious and traditional leaders to add their trusted voices to the call for more compassion, tolerance and peace for people living with or affected by HIV in Nigeria,” Dr. Camara said.

Use social media wisely and positively – UNIC tells youths as Social Media Week Lagos holds

Lagos, 26 February 2015. Nigerian youths have been urged to use the various social media platforms wisely and positively to enhance their self-development and that of the society. ‘Your social media activities could add value to you or devalue you, use social media wisely and positively’, the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun, had told an audience of predominantly youths during the Social Media Week Lagos.

Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the audience

Oluseyi Soremekun addresses the audience

The Social Media Week Lagos organized by UNIC and a Non-Governmental Organisation, DoTheDream Initiative, was held at the Library Auditorium of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Ikoyi Lagos.

The National Information Officer warned the youths to be careful of what they do in the cyber space, explaining that from their social media posts, comments and tweets, opinions could be formed about their character and disposition to issues and people.

‘You are what you like on Facebook; your tweets mirror your personality and what you stand for; your social media posts are reflections of your character,’ Soremekun explained, ‘therefore, keep your activities clean and positive as you are accountable for your action and must be ready to bear the consequences of your actions.’

Facilitators of the programmes

Facilitators of the programmes

A group photograph of some of the participants

A group photograph of some of the participants

The National Information Officer who spoke on ‘Using Social media wisely’, also urged the youths to always cross-checked their contents very well before posting for public view. He added that contents, including photographs and videos that were not created by them should be credited to the copyright owners.

In his presentation on ‘Social media, the Game changer’, a social media expert and family therapist, Olutayo Olushola, underscored the capability of the social media to transform businesses and lives. He charged the youths to always nurture positive thoughts and harness the power of social networking to transform lives.

The Founder and Director of Programmes of DoTheDream Initiative, Olutayo Olumadewa had earlier welcomed the participants and enjoined them to make the best use of the opportunity to learn more about optimizing the benefits of the social media.