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Caution drivers when speeding, LASTMA tells passengers

The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority has felicitated with Muslims across the state as they join other faithful world over in celebrating the Eld El-Fitr, which marks the successful completion of the Ramadan fasting. In a statement issued by the Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, Adebayo Taofiq, he quoted the General Manager of LASTMA, Bakare Oki, as stating that Lastma had begun vigorous public enlightenment campaign programmes at motor parks and garages for drivers to adhere strictly with all traffic regulations. He added that part of the campaign was also for passengers to know their rights “by cautioning drivers when on high speed or trying to maneuver in an attempt to drive against traffic which is ‘One-way.’ He warned against speeding, wrongful overtaking, lane violation, road obstruction, disobeying traffic lights, overloading and one-way driving. Oki said, “The agency would not tolerate any avoidable infraction as a result of negligence capable of hindering the free flow of vehicular movement on roads across the state.” The General Manager maintained that LASTMA officials would be at their lawful duty posts managing and controlling traffic before, during and after the Eld El-Fitr celebrations. Last week, LASTMA warned motorists to observe speed limits when traveling along the extensive section of the newly repaired Third Mainland Bridge. It urged motorists to observe all traffic signs and installed technological equipment connected to traffic.

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Ex-coach, others hail Falcons

Former assistant coach of the Super Falcons, Mansur Abdulahi, as well as fans have hailed the team for weathering the storm in South Africa to book a spot in the Women’s Football Tournament of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Punch Sports Extra reports. Randy Waldrum’s team achieved the feat by battling boastful Banyana Banyana to a barren draw in the Women’s Olympic Qualifying CAF second leg in Pretoria on Tuesday to qualify for the Games for the first time since 2008 1-0 on aggregate, having secured the marginal win in the first leg at Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Friday. Although the road to Paris was bumpy, Abdulahi and the fans noted that the outcome of the game over both legs shows the mental capacity of the nine-time African champions. “Nigerians are glad, Africans will be glad, and even the organisers will be glad that the Super Falcons will be at the Olympics,” Abdulahi told PUNCH Sports Extra. “I wasn’t happy when they won 1-0 in Abuja, but two games are not the same, and we did what we had to do in the second leg to get what we wanted. I’ve always had confidence in the technical team, and it is our desire to see the team qualify. I am particularly glad because three of my players at the U-20 level—Chiamaka Nnadozie, Rasheedat Ajibade, and Christy Ucheibe—are part of this team,” the Sokoto United coach added. Following the inability of the men’s U-23 team to qualify for the Games, fans are also hoping that the Falcons will make Nigeria proud when they begin their campaign in Group C against world champions Spain, Japan, and Brazil. “If our boys cannot go to the Olympics, our girls will be there to fly our colours and make us proud,” a fan named Adeyemi Fabunmi wrote. Another fan, Jide Yusuf, said, “Stand up for these beautiful ladies called Super Falcons. They are the best. Let’s take the world by surprise at the Paris Olympics. Yes, we can.” “A great deal of preparation is needed. Let the best legs play the Olympic matches. Better defending and better goal-poachers are needed to win the Olympics,” a fan with the name Chris suggested. Some others also had their picks from the game. “Good one; Nnadozie did the dirty work for us. Our attack seems not to be the same as we have known,” said Joshua Ikhalo. “So glad we made it. It was tense in some moments. Off to the Olympics we go,” another fan, Olatubosun, wrote.

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LASG removes illegal restaurant from drainage setback

The Monitoring, Enforcement and Compliance Department of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment has demolished a structure serving as a restaurant on a drainage setback along Ademola Tokunbo Street, Victoria Island. The state Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab, in a Monday post on X, said while at the place, the officials observed that the structure was fabricated using two 20-foot imported containers placed on the setback and padded with Plaster of Paris. The drainage behind where the containers were placed was sealed with metal sheets and converted to a septic tank. Wahab’s post read, “Officers from the Monitoring Enforcement and Compliance Department of the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources #LasgMOE while on enforcement of some infractions in Lekki over the weekend observed the placement of a structure serving as a restaurant on the drainage setback along Ademola Tokunbo Street, Victoria Island. “The occupiers were served abatement notice, and the structures were marked for removal. Earlier today, the containers were removed, and the drainage was cleared.” Two days ago, the government also removed illegal structures on setbacks on Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island. This was following the dislodgement of mechanics on MacGregor Road in the Ikoyi area of Lagos after several complaints from the public, and the occupants not yielding to the several notices served on them.

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'We are Arabs and our blood is one': Yemeni fisherman face threat of Houthi attack – but on Gaza they are firmly behind the militants

Yemen’s fishermen set out at dawn to take on seas where they know they could face pirates, smugglers, and now Houthi militant missile attacks. “We’re always scared,” Awad tells us as he sits on the edge of the wooden fishing boat. “Because you don’t know when you will be attacked.” The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have become the new battleground in the spreading war in Gaza. Houthi missiles targeting international shipping routes have caused havoc to global trade, led to a rise in food prices and brought heightened misery to the Yemenis who rely on the waters for their livelihoods. Gaza war ‘affects us 100%’ The waters are choppy and it is windy the morning we join a group of fishermen in the Gulf of Aden. They tell us their hauls have reduced, their costs have gone up, and they rarely make a profit now after hours of back-breaking work on the seas.”The war affects our work 100 per cent,” fisherman Naeem Hamoudy tells us as he’s busy pulling in his latest haul. Their income has been cut by as much as 90%, he insists. Yet every one of the fishermen appears to support the action taken in support of the Palestinians – despite the impact on their livelihoods. “The Houthis oppress us,” says one. These men are on the opposite side of Yemen’s civil war to the Houthis militants – but the Houthi stance protesting at Israeli aggression in Gaza has won grudging respect from them. Listen above then tap here to follow the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts “We are with Gaza,” says Naeem. “And we will be with Gaza until we die because we are Arabs and our blood is one blood.” “They are killing women and children,” he goes on in reference to the Israeli bombardment in the Strip. “It is not an army against an army.” But there’s no doubt life is already hard for these fishermen, and it’s getting harder. After nearly a decade of civil war, the spreading impact of what’s happening in Gaza is affecting some of the poorest people in the world. After several hours on the seas, the small fishing team have hauled in a smaller-than-normal catch. They’re disappointed yet insist they’re grateful too. “Sometimes we get nothing,” Naeem says. “But this won’t even really cover the cost of the fuel for the boat.” He works out they’ll probably make the equivalent of a dollar each for their hours of work. ‘Biggest threat is from the Houthis’ There are considerable problems keeping Yemen’s seas safe. We are taken on a tour along the coast by the head of Yemen’s Navy himself – Admiral Abdullah al Nakhai. He takes us out on one of the two new boats they’ve received. The fleet is small, he tells us and certainly not big enough to counter the triple threats of piracy, smuggling and the Houthi attacks. The biggest threat, he insists, comes from the Houthis. “We’re morally responsible for protecting our territorial waters,” he explains. “But at the moment, we don’t have the means to protect against piracy, terrorism, smuggling and the Houthi intrusion.” He says much more international help is needed for Yemen to counter these dangers. “If we don’t get support to help us confront the Houthis,” he goes on, “then the opposite will be the case. And the opposite of security is chaos in the sea – that’s terrorism, piracy and disruption.” Scientists race to avert potential disaster In the country’s ageing laboratories in Aden, the scientists are fighting a different sort of battle – that of potential catastrophic pollution of Yemen’s seas. The Houthi attacks against ships passing through the critical Bab al Mandab Strait, has hit a vessel with thousands of tonnes of hazardous chemicals on board. The Rubymar has been laying off the Yemeni Red Sea coast since mid-February and is now mostly submerged. A trail of oil was seen seeping out into the sea shortly after the attack – but scientists are far more worried about the prospect of the cargo of dangerous chemical fertiliser emptying into the waters. “The leaking could happen any time – today or tomorrow,” Tawfiq Al-Sharjabi, the Minister for Water and Environment warned. “It’s urgent we get international help to sort this as soon as possible.” Read more from Sky News:Analysis: Key element in path to peace in Gaza still missingIsrael’s PM vows to push ahead with Rafah invasion Yemeni scientists have painted a terrifying picture of a potentially catastrophic environmental disaster if the chemical cargo is not safely extracted. If the cargo leaks out of the ship’s containers instead, the chemicals could end up destroying swathes of the Red Sea and its precious marine life. “If it happens,” Mr Al-Sharjabi said, “it will affect the whole Red Sea – the mangrove trees, the marine life and the Red Sea coast. Imagine how many fishermen rely on the sea every day and this will affect the whole fishing community”. A document outlining the urgency of removing the chemicals from the sunken ship – seen by Sky News – was sent to the United Nations two weeks ago. Yemeni scientists have already been testing samples gathered from the waters near the sunken vessel under challenging conditions. The lab manager at the Aden Oil Refinery, Dr Safa Gamal Nasser told us the scientists were struggling with antiquated equipment and a lack of raw materials such as the solutions required to conform to international testing standards. “We are doing our best,” she said. But she went on to say Yemen is in desperate need of outside help. Alex Crawford reports from Yemen with camera Jake Britton, Specialist producer Chris Cunningham and Yemen producer Ahmed Baider.

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Questions raised after video released of Dexter Reed’s fatal shooting by police

The release of bodycamera footage showing the fatal shooting of Dexter Reed Jr. during a deadly traffic stop in Chicago last month has left some family members and activists questioning. Video released Tuesday showed the moment gunfire erupted during the traffic stop in which plainclothes officers killed Reed after he opened fire, wounding one of them. Officers responded with more than 90 gunshots fired in less than a minute. According to Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, five Chicago officers assigned to an 11th District tactical unit had pulled over Reed on March 21 in the 3800 block of West Ferdinand for “purportedly not wearing a seatbelt.” Video from several bodycameras worn by the officers involved shows them repeatedly asking Reed to roll down his windows and open his door before Reed is seen rolling the windows up and refusing to exit. As the shouts from police grew louder, gunfire began. The police oversight agency said a “review of video footage and initial reports appears to confirm that Mr. Reed fired first, striking the officer and four officers returned fire.” The videos show multiple perspectives, including from the officer who was shot. But there isn’t clear footage of Reed shooting. A gun was later recovered from Reed’s vehicle. The videos released offer a more detailed account of what happened than what police initially said last month. Still, family members have questioned authorities’ account of the shooting, looking for answers about why Reed was pulled over. “If he was supposed to get pulled over for a traffic stop, why do they have four guns pointed at him? He was scared. And after he was already on the ground there, they still put him in cuffs instead of checking to see if he’s breathing. They shot to him 96 times and reload the clip three times,” Reed’s sister Porscha Banks said. Andrew Stroth, an attorney for the family, said Reed’s mother, sister, uncle and father saw the video Tuesday and were emotionally distraught. Stroth called it an unconstitutional police stop with plainclothes officers who did not announce they were police. He said the family wants to see a swift investigation and for the department to better comply with a court-supervised reform plan. On Tuesday, police spokesperson Thomas Ahern said the department was cooperating with the investigation. “We cannot make a determination on this shooting until all the facts are known and this investigation has concluded,” he said. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said her office will determine whether the officers’ use of force was warranted or necessitated criminal charges. “Let me assure you that our pursuit of justice will be relentless, guided by the facts, grounded in evidence and the law,” she said. What does the video show? The footage begins with a tactical unit driving up to the scene. Multiple officers are heard screaming profanity-laced commands for Reed to first lower the window and then open the door. As they shout, Reed can be heard saying “OK, I’m trying to,” with officers continuing to pull on the door handle and shouting for him to unlock the doors, some backing away and raising their firearms as he rolls his windows up. In the videos, gunfire is heard as officers then take cover and several gunshots are fired in a matter of seconds. One officer falls away from the scene, with video showing blood dripping from his arm. “When Mr. Reed did not comply with these commands, officers pointed their firearms at Mr. Reed and ultimately there was an exchange of gunfire which left Mr. Reed dead and an officer shot in the forearm,” COPA said in a release. In total, officers fired roughly 96 shots in 41 seconds, some of which continued after Reed got out of the vehicle and fell to the ground, COPA reported. Video evidence recorded dozens of shots fired within that time, though it’s not clear which are from officers and which are from Reed. Dozens of bullet holes can be seen in Reed’s vehicle. A man calling 911 to report the shooting described it as “shooting like they’re having a Vietnam War.” Reed exits the vehicle and slumps to the ground, ending up facedown with his head near the rear passenger wheel and wearing only one shoe. Blood trails into a nearby gutter. “Don’t move! Don’t move!” the officers scream at Reed, lifting up bloody slumping hands in search of a gun but not finding one. They handcuff him as he remains facedown and unmoving. “I don’t know where the gun is,” an officer says. They later use a flashlight to look into the vehicle and locate the weapon on the passenger seat. “He started shooting at us,” another officer says. Afterward more officers and an ambulance arrive on scene. “All of us were shooting,” one officer says repeatedly. Reed, who was 26, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was later pronounced dead. One officer was shot in the wrist and was last reported to be in good condition, CPD Supt. Larry Snelling said at the time. Multiple other officers were transported to the hospital for observation and were reported to be in good condition. Who was Dexter Reed? Andrew Stroth, an attorney for the family, said Reed’s mother, sister, uncle and father saw the video Tuesday and were emotionally distraught. He said they remember the young man as a talented high school basketball player with ambitions of being a sports broadcaster. “I really can’t explain the pain that me and my family is going through, but I just hope there are people out there who understand he was a son, he was a brother, he was an uncle, he had loved ones,” Banks told reporters. “He was somebody very important.” At the time of the shooting, Cook County court records showed Reed was out on pretrial release after being charged in 2023 with three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and one count of possession of a firearm with a revoked FOID card. He had appeared in court in person days before the shooting and was next scheduled for a status hearing in April. Latest on the investigation COPA said their investigation into what happened is ongoing. “As an agency established on the core principle of reform, we take investigations into the use of deadly force and surrounding circumstances very seriously. COPA has the responsibility, as is noted in the Federal Consent Decree and Municipal Ordinance, to review every police shooting involving CPD officers,” First Deputy Chief Administrator Ephraim Eaddy said in a statement. “Each use of deadly force must be evaluated by examining the totality of circumstances, including the officer’s actions prior to the use of force. Accordingly, we will carefully review the actions of the involved police officers and their supervisors to determine whether training, policy and directives were properly followed. Our immediate investigatory steps included responding to the scene, viewing available body worn camera footage, and observing the collection of evidence, including shell casings and other ballistics evidence.” Chicago police also said the shooting remained under investigation. “We cannot make a determination on this shooting until all the facts are known and this investigation has concluded,” the department said in a statement following the video’s release. Response to the shooting Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson called the footage “extremely painful and traumatic for many of our city’s residents.” “As mayor, and as a father raising a family – including two Black boys on the West Side – I am personally devastated to see yet another young Black man lose his life during an interaction with the police,” Johnson said during a press conference following the video’s release. “My heart breaks for the family of Dexter Reed. They are grieving the loss of a son, a brother and a nephew. I spoke to Dexter’s family this weekend and offered them my deepest condolences. I know there is also a community of friends, teammates, coaches, and neighbors who are mourning his loss as well.” “I have also been praying for the full recovery of the officer who was shot during this interaction, and who I visited in the hospital the day of the incident. Thankfully, he is recovering, but if that bullet had hit him a few inches in a different direction, I would be here today talking about the loss of another young Black man,” Johnson continued. “It weighs heavily on me that this event took place just blocks from my own community. And it is not lost on me that both Dexter Reed and this officer could have been my students.” Johnson noted the officers involved in the shooting are on a 30-day administrative leave. “I want to be clear, shooting a police officer can never be condoned, or excused. I will never stand for that. And we will always hold our police to the highest standard,” Johnson said. “As agents of the law, they have the highest responsibility to the communities they serve. As a government, as representatives of the people, we have an obligation to abide by the rule of law and to follow procedures, and that is what we are doing here. As this city remembers the life of Dexter Reed, I urge everyone to remain peaceful and not lead our city down a path of division, but instead towards healing and change for the better. We all grieve the loss of life and the trauma that follows pervasive violence. We cannot ever accept violence as a way of life in Chicago. This is a call for dialogue, advocacy, and ultimately constructive action to prevent tragic events like this from ever happening again. And this administration is deeply committed to accountability and transparency so that true justice and true safety are realized.” Some faith leaders in Chicago have called for an independent investigation into the shooting. “Mr. Reed was beloved by his family, a standout athlete, and formerly worked as a certified security officer at the University of Illinois Credit Union One arena. His family deserves the unadulterated truth,” the Leaders Network of Chicago, which includes Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Ira Acree and several others, said in a statement. “We believe in law and order, community policing, and police accountability. In the case of Mr. Reed, we demand to know how a simple traffic stop results in civilian death. The video record of that encounter raises more questions than answers. Simply put, we cannot trust the police or its sister agency, COPA, to police the police. An independent investigation is the only way to gain confidence in the system.” Rev. Michael Pfleger said the footage “is horrific to watch” and “leaves me with many questions.” “This investigation must be thorough, transparent, and honest,” Pfleger said in a statement. “If laws and procedures were not followed, people must be held responsible. We must all wait for the complete investigation and keep our eye on the process and transparency.”

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Massive investment and financial reform needed to rescue SDGs

Estimates are that in the least developed countries, debt service will be $40 billion annually between 2023 and 2025, up more than 50 per cent from $26 billion in 2022. Stronger and more frequent climate related disasters account for more than half of the debt upsurge in vulnerable countries. Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed said roughly 40 per cent of the global population, some 3.3 billion people, live in countries where governments now spend more on interest payments than on education or health. Meanwhile, the global economy is not supporting investment and development as it should, she noted. Average growth rates have steadily declined over the last 25 years, from over six per cent before the global financial crisis more than 15 years ago to around four per cent today. Reform outdated financial system The report calls for scaling up public and private investment in the SDGs, highlighting the importance of reform of the development bank system. In this regard, donors also need to make good on commitments on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and climate finance. Secondly, the current international financial architecture – established nearly 80 years ago – must also be remade as it is “no longer fit for purpose”, she said, and developing countries should have a greater voice in global economic governance. Close ‘credibility gaps’ Finally, world leaders must close “credibility gaps” and trust deficits. This is especially the case for wealthier nations, which have made promises on global governance reform, aid delivery, and domestic reforms to tackle corruption and inequality, including gender inequality. Stating that the report’s message could not be clearer, Ms. Mohammed said “we must choose now either to succeed together or we will fail together,” stressing that “failure is not an option.” The report also encourages governments to make the most of “significant opportunities ahead”, she added, pointing to major conferences such as the Summit of the Future at UN Headquarters in September and the Fourth International Conference on Financing for Development scheduled for next year.

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Colombia serves as ‘a model’ for countries using dialogue to forge peace

“However difficult and demanding of patience, Colombia’s decision to prioritise dialogue as a principal means to resolve conflict sets the country apart as a model that is more relevant than ever in today’s world,” said Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Emerging from decades of war, the Government has since made critical strides in implementing the 2016 Final Peace Agreement by advancing ongoing dialogue initiatives, he said, recalling the Council’s recent visit when members were able to observe firsthand the “deep desire for peace”, from the highest levels of government and state institutions through civil society and vulnerable communities in the regions still afflicted by conflict. ‘Still a long way to go’ “The key challenge for transforming that aspiration into reality is to channel the abundant political will and the drive of civil society into ever more tangible dividends of peace on the ground,” he said. Eleven former combatants have been killed since the Secretary-General’s last report, and social leaders and entire communities still suffer the full impact of ongoing violence and the limited presence of State institutions in various regions, he said, adding that there is “still a long way to go” to meet the peace agreements ambitious goals. Recommending better use of existing tools to implement the peace agreement, he called on the government to finalise legal instruments and reintegration programmes for former combatants to provide these men and women with certainty and consolidate their transition to civilian life. Anticipating ‘concrete results’ However, the Secretary-General’s latest report recognises significant increases in budget allocations and efforts of the current government, he continued. As such, he anticipated “concrete results”, including on the agreement’s provisions that seek to address the longstanding exclusion and disproportionate impact of the conflict on women, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) persons and the soon-to-be-launched national action plan for implementing Security Council resolution 1325 – on women, peace and security. “I trust that this Council will echo our calls to encourage all actors in Colombia to redouble their efforts to implement the 2016 Peace Agreement and to pursue dialogue as a way to further consolidate peace in the country,” he said. ‘Scarred by war, yet hopeful for peace’ Marcela Sánchez, Executive Director of the non-governmental organisation Colombia Diversa, briefed the Council on the conflict’s impact on LGBTQ people and what remains to be done to ensure an inclusive peace. “Thanks to our collective efforts, what was once unthinkable is now possible: peace initiatives that recognise all Colombians, slow but meaningful social change towards a world without discrimination and a legal framework rooted in the fundamental principle of equality,” she said. “I come from a country scarred by war, yet hopeful for peace.” However, challenges persist, she said, as LGBTQ people have long been targeted for who they are due to entrenched patriarchal norms and discrimination, and Colombia remains “one of the deadliest countries in the world for human rights defenders”. “Every attack against an LGBTQ person, every human rights defender killed and every murder left uninvestigated sends the message that our lives are dispensable,” she warned, pointing to reports of at least 6,000 crimes committed against them during the armed conflict and at least eight deaths against rights workers in 2023. ‘Think of Colombia as a laboratory’ For a lasting peace, LGBTQ people must be involved in every stage of peacebuilding, she stressed, offering suggestions how the Security Council can recommend this process around the world, including by demanding the full participation of women and LGBTQ people in implementing Colombia’s peace agreement and calling for an end to all targeted intimidation and attacks and for perpetrators to be held accountable. “Think of Colombia as a laboratory for implementing the principles of equality, non-discrimination and inclusivity that are so central to the women, peace and security agenda,” she said. “Success or failure here could set an important precedent for the protection of LGBTQ rights elsewhere in the world. We hope this Council seizes the opportunity to lead by example.” She said she hoped “that the Security Council can send a powerful signal to the LGBTQ population in Colombia that their lives matter and that you will stand by your commitment to protect their rights”.

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World News in Brief: Shipwreck tragedy off Djibouti coast, drone attacks continue at Ukraine nuclear plant, Madagascar cyclone update

The incident took place at around 4 AM local time on Monday, about 200 meters offshore near the coastal town of Obock. Twenty-two people were rescued by local fishermen and are being given treatment and support by IOM, agency spokesperson Yvonne Ndege told UN News in an exclusive interview. At least six others are missing and presumed dead. Around 66 migrants in total were onboard travelling across the Gulf of Aden, from Yemen to Djibouti. Well-travelled route Every year thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa, especially Ethiopia and Somalia, leave their homes in a bid to reach Gulf countries for work, travelling through Djibouti and across the Gulf of Aden. But many find themselves stranded in Yemen, facing severe hardships amidst the ongoing war and economic crisis there. They are also at risk of abuse by smugglers and traffickers and have to contend with perilous sea journeys on their way back. “With reference to this latest tragedy these were migrants from the Horn of Africa predominantly from Ethiopia who were traveling back to Djibouti,” Ms. Ndege said. Further drone attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant an ‘ominous development’ A further drone attack on Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia marks an “ominous development” and a major worsening of safety and security, the head of the UN atomic watchdog, the IAEA, said on Tuesday. Director General Rafael Grossi said the agency’s team of experts stationed at the plant – who verified the impact of several such attacks on the Russian-occupied plant on Sunday – reported hearing bursts of rifle fire followed by a loud explosion at 11:05am local time. This was the same time that the plant later said an incoming drone had detonated on the roof of the facility’s training centre. The incident adds to deepening concern over the already highly precarious nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the ZNPP, which has been shelled several times since the conflict started in February 2022 and lost all off-site power eight times. The training centre is located just outside the site perimeter, around half a kilometre from reactor unit 1, and the incident did not pose any threat to nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP, whose six reactors have all been shut down for the past 20 months. ‘Playing with fire’ However, there are ZNPP staff routinely present there. The IAEA team requested immediate access to the building to assess the possible impact but was informed that the military security situation did not allow it. “Today’s reported incident – although outside the site perimeter – is an ominous development as it indicates an apparent readiness to continue these attacks, despite the grave dangers they pose to nuclear safety and security and our repeated calls for military restraint”, said Mr. Grossi. “Whoever is behind them, they are playing with fire. Attacking a nuclear power plant is extremely irresponsible and dangerous, and it must stop,” he added. Over 200,000 need humanitarian aid following Madagascar cyclone An estimated 220,000 people require immediate humanitarian assistance due to the catastrophic impact of Tuesday’s tropical cyclone Gamane in northeast Madagascar. The storm made landfall on March 27 in the northeast of Madagascar, wreaking havoc in the regions of Analanjirofo, Diana, Atsinanana, and Sava. “The cyclone exacerbates the hardships of populations already burdened by multiple crises,” said Roger Charles Evina, IOM Chief of Mission in Madagascar. “El Nino conditions resulted in erratic rainfalls in the past months, with populations in the Grand Sud bracing for a severe drought, while Tropical Storm Alvaro in January and excessive rainfall in February have resulted in major flooding in the north and southwestern regions, affecting close to 52,000 people.” In response to the devastation caused, IOM participated in a joint aerial assessment conducted on 30 March by humanitarian partners and the National Office for Risks and Disaster Management. Initial reports indicate that over 535,000 people have been affected across 33 flooded communes, with 18 people killed and 22,000 persons displaced. Close to 19,000 homes were flooded and extensive damage are reported on roads and essential infrastructures, including 22 health centres and 135 schools. More than 2,200 hectares of rice fields face the risk of being silted, jeopardising livelihoods of populations across the affected areas.

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UN continues to face aid access denials in Gaza

Israeli authorities have not given a clear reason why, said OCHA Spokesperson Jens Laerke, speaking during the regular briefing by UN humanitarian agencies in Geneva. “They very often deny and that is it, and it ends there. We do not get an explanation,” he said. In a widely reported telephone call last Thursday between United States President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel committed to reopen the Erez border crossing into northern Gaza as well as facilitate aid delivery via the nearby port of Ashdod. The White House said it would be watching closely but no date has been set by Israel to act and the concession over expanding routes into Gaza has yet to materialize, according to news reports. Mr. Laerke was asked about the opening of more aid corridors, particularly the Erez crossing, but said as of Monday night, OCHA had not received any information that it had opened. Denials and impediments OCHA issued a report this week which said that restrictions and denials of planned aid movements by Israeli authorities continue to hamper the delivery of life-saving assistance to the shattered enclave. During March, more than half of UN-coordinated food missions to high-risk areas requiring coordination with Israeli authorities were either denied or impeded. Mr. Laerke was responding to journalists’ questions about the number of aid trucks entering Gaza and discrepancies between Israeli and UN figures. The Israeli defense ministry unit that coordinates and facilitates humanitarian aid for Gaza, known as COGAT, counts trucks that it screens and sends across the border while OCHA counts trucks that arrive at its warehouses, and “between those two, there are issues.” Comparison ‘makes little sense’ Trucks screened by COGAT are typically only half full, in line with its requirements, he said. “When we count the trucks on the other side when they have been reloaded…they are full. Already there, the numbers will never match up,” he continued. He explained that counting day to day and comparing numbers “makes little sense” as it does not take into account delays at the crossing and in moving to warehouses. Israeli-imposed restrictions also prohibit Egyptian drivers and trucks from being in the same area at the same time as Palestinian drivers and trucks, so handovers are not smooth. Access to north Gaza Mr. Laerke stressed that moving aid inside Gaza “is another complication”, referring to the impediments and access denials. “Food convoys that should be going particularly to the north, where 70 per cent of people face famine conditions, are more likely, actually three times more likely, to be denied than any other humanitarian convoy with other kinds of material,” he said. He told journalists that aid distribution inside Gaza “is a major issue” due to security and safety reasons, and the breakdown of law and order. “But we also stress that the obligation on the warring parties – and, in particular, I would say on Israel as the occupying power of Gaza – to facilitate and ensure humanitarian access does not stop at the border,” he said.

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Assembly President announces first-ever ‘Sustainability Week’

To be held from 15 to 19 April, President Dennis Francis’ flagship initiative converges various mandated events into a singular, impactful week, elevating the discourse on such critical sectors as tourism, infrastructure, energy and transport. “The Sustainability Week initiative is essentially designed to galvanise momentum around sustainability in a way that helps to supercharge implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Mr. Francis told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York. He added that high-level participation is anticipated from Heads of States and Governments, sector-specific ministers and key UN officials. Sustainability Week highlights 15 April: High-level thematic debate on debt sustainability and socioeconomic equality, highlighting the impact of surging debt on countries’ development trajectories16 April: High-level thematic event on tourism, addressing unsustainable practices within the industry and launching a statistical framework for measuring sustainability17 April: High-level meeting on sustainable transport, emphasising its importance in achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)18 April: Informal dialogue on building global resilience and promoting sustainable development through infrastructure connectivity19 April: Global stock taking on sustainable energy, reflecting on progress and shortcomings over the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024 and launching a call to action to accelerate implementation of SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy Beyond the 2030 Agenda Assembly President Francis also highlighted initiatives beyond the 2030 Agenda, including the Choose Sustainability campaign, which encourages stakeholders to adopt pledges and sustainability practices. “I encourage all permanent missions, stakeholders and the media to adopt pledges to promote sustainability and to declare their support on social media while adopting sustainability practices,” he said. For its part, his office is, among other things, working to phase out the use of roll-up banners throughout the General Assembly and to replace them with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED screens.

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