UNCT holds 2014 retreat… meets Oyo State Governor, engages local communities

15 April 2014

The UN Country Team in Nigeria visits a local community

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) led by the Resident Coordinator, Mr Daouda Toure, recently held its 2014 annual retreat and engaged local communities in Ibadan, Oyo State, South-West Nigeria.  

Attended by representatives of eighteen UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds including the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, represented by its National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, the retreat featured a courtesy call on the Governor of Oyo State; visit to UN project sites; presentations on the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) III and its core component, Delivery as One (DaO).

Receiving the team in his office, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, expressed his appreciation of the choice of Oyo State as the host the UNCT annual retreat. He pledged the support of his administration to all UN programmes and projects in the State. 

The Governor therefore sought the assistance of the United Nations on seven fronts: Development of an Industrial park; Peace and Security; Physical Infrastructure; Preventive medical service delivery; Logistics centre; Agricultural development and Training especially vocational training, knowledge and skill acquisition.

In his remarks, the Resident Coordinator acknowledged the commitment of the government of Oyo State to infrastructural development and empowerment of the people. However, Mr Toure noted that there were still more to do, especially in the area of health management, education and youth empowerment.

In line with its programmes, the UNCT made a field visit to Sabo Community to engage some young women who were beneficiaries of an empowerment scheme supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The team also visited another ILO-supported project site to engage rescued victims of child labour, who had been enrolled in Agbaje Memorial Primary School at Agbaje market area of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital. The project which was to eliminate child labour in the community, had assisted over 110 children to go back to school.

In an interactive session, one of the rescued children, Mariam Agbaje, age 10, disclosed to the UNCT that she was engaged to pick melons in the market for which she was being paid the sum of Thirty-Naira (N30) per day. Another rehabilitated child worker, Ayomide Oladokun, 12 years said he was a street hawker of water in a sachet, popularly known as ‘pure water’ with a daily wage of N30 on a turnover over of N500. Both of them were grateful to the UN and Gallilee Foundation, the project managers, for rescuing them from the dangers of the street and bringing them to school. They expressed their joy of being with other children in the classrooms.

Engaging the women, many of whom were widows, the UNCT had a first-hand accounts of the huge impact a UN project had made in the lives of people. The women, who spoke one after the other, acknowledged that the project had organised them into cooperative society; empowered them in such a way that they could afford to send their children to school and make daily savings from the income generated from the project economic empowerment scheme.

In their deliberation at the retreat, the UNCT noted that elections is  a major flagship programme for the UN in Nigeria; therefore, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the lead Agency on elections, was mandated to convene a meeting of Agencies that have planned activities related to elections to agree on a road map of working together to Deliver as One. 

Speaking on the elections, the Resident Coordinator assured that the UN would reinforce its advocacy to the Federal Government that issues of elections should not stop interventions in other thematic areas.

In regards to Delivering as One (DaO), the UNCT noted that all the states of the federation were DaO states explaining that any UN Agency that had presence in any state, would speak and act for the UN. However, Agency leads in some states were decided: the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as the lead Agency; Lagos -(World Health Organisation – (WHO); Anambra - UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Oyo and Kogi - UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); Benue - UNICEF; Borno – UNICEF; Ekiti - UNDP; Cross River - UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Niger - UNDP.

The retreat ended with a sound commitment by the UNCT to implement the UNDAF III 2014 -2017, with vigour and within the framework of Delivering as One UN.

Intensify Efforts to Meet MDG targets – Urges UN Resident Coordinator

14 April 2014

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer and Lion's Club Representative exchange their respective Organisation's flags

The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Nigeria, Mr. Daouda Toure, has called on corporate bodies, the Civil Society, and other development partners to intensify efforts geared towards achieving the targets set for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) even as the United Nations and the entire world are already talking about post-2015 sustainable development.

He made this call in his goodwill message delivered at the 36th Annual Lions Day with the United Nations, held recently at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos. The theme of the day was ‘In fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals’ under the chairmanship of Prof Segun Awonusi of the University of Lagos. This was in continuation of the Lions Day with the UN held at the UN Headquarters in February 2014.

The Resident Coordinator who spoke through the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun, charged the participants to double their efforts towards eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving Universal Primary Education; promoting gender equality and women empowerment; reducing child mortality; and improving maternal care. 

He added that all hands must be on deck to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. “We have started and there is no looking back,” he declared.

In his opening remarks, the Multiple District Chairperson, Professor Ayoade Adesokan, observed that the Lions Club International and the United Nations shared some things in common. This, he said, included creating and fostering a spirit of understanding among the people of the world which is one of the purposes of the Lions Club.

Professor Adesokan added that the relationship between the United Nations and Lions Club International dated back to 1945 when the leaders of the Club were asked to help develop the non-governmental organisation charter for the United Nations.

The peak of the ceremony was the traditional exchange of flags between the two Organisations.

Sustainable energy for all - students' competition on energy

11 April 2014






For the third consecutive year, the UNRIC Desk for Italy granted its patronage to a competition opened to students of the Emilia Romagna region and traditionally centered upon energy-related topics (http://www.sgrservizi.it/trofeosgr). 

This year’s theme, “New energy to your holiday”, saw a number of theoretical and practical activities aimed at testing the youth’s energy awareness. The Desk Officer delivered a message that emphasized the importance of energy-related issues in light of the crucial role that a correct use and concept of energy may play within the wider context of sound environmental practices. 

The occasion was also used as an opportunity to touch upon the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.  Reference was also made in this regard to the UN Secretary-General’s priorities for the year and the key upcoming appointments later in 2014. 

In his message to the participants, the Officer stressed the pivotal place that the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, launched by the Secretary-General in 2012 keeps holding, having caused a number of similar initiatives that are bound to continue in the future. 

Remembering Victims of Slavery

11 April 2014

Participants at the event

More than 15 million men, women, and children died as a result of the global slave trade over a period of more than 300 years, but those victims are now being honoured throughout the world, and the achievements of their descendants celebrated, thanks to a 17 December 2007 resolution by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Here in Indonesia, the UN's International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was celebrated for the first time on 11 April, in the building that most represents solidarity between Asian and African nations -- the Gedung Konferensi Asia-Africa, home to the 1955 Conference in Bandung that gave birth to the Non-Aligned Movement. 

The UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Jakarta, in partnership with Parahyangan Catholic University, and with the collaboration of the UN agency for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), organized a film screening and discussion to mark the observation. 

Speakers included Muhammad Anshor, Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia; Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Representative to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste; Wahyu Susilo, an activist for the rights of migrant workers; and Sylvia Yazid, a Lecturer in the Department of International Relations of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Universitas Parahyangan.

Nearly 100 participants in the audience included lecturers and students from universities in Bandung, prominent members of the diplomatic community, and representatives from national media organizations (Kompas, Galamedia, The Jakarta Globe, and Tempo).

The event opened with a screening of the trailer for this year’s Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, “12 Years as Slave” , followed by opening remarks from Michele Zaccheo, Director of UNIC Jakarta. “Unless we can understand the history of the slave trade, and of efforts to abolish it, we cannot truly understand the present,” Zaccheo said, referring both to the diaspora of descendants of slaves across the globe and to the nearly 21 million people who are estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to be living in conditions of forced labour today.

The video documentary by UNESCO, ‘Slave Routes: The Soul of Resistance’ – part of UNESCO’s Slave Routes Project, whose 20th anniversary is being observed this year, was also screened. 

Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Muhammad Anshor delivered remarks centering on how slavery can still occur anywhere in many forms – out of conditions of poverty and marginalization. “What we can do now is to take the lessons from the past and take real action so those horrible events in the past are not repeated,” he said.  He added that fostering solidarity among people plays and important role in combating slavery.


Wahyu Susilo spoke about how the Bandung Declaration of 1955 could be seen as an outcome of the long fight against slavery. “But slavery is still happening,” he said, “slavery is not yet history.” Problems of slavery and forced labour affect migrant workers, and victims of human trafficking syndicates, whose condition is sometimes not much different from what happened historically, Wahyu said. 

A number of cases of Indonesian migrant workers abroad have raised issues related to their protection. Many do not have balanced working hours or fair pay, have their passports withheld by their employer, and a number of them are abused physically and sexually – a form of exploitation that can be referred to as “modern slavery”.

“New forms of slavery persist to this day,” said Hubert Gijzen from UNESCO. The ILO estimates that approximately 56 percent of the victims of modern slavery are in Asia and the Pacific region. He also referred to the “grey area” between slavery and exploitation of migrant workers. 

Sylvia Yazid focused on the need to strengthen procedures for migrants to find legal avenues to pursue their ambitions to work abroad, so that they do not fall into hands of criminal organizations. “Migrant workers help our country,” she said.