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Global activists gather at Rome G20 to demand tougher action on China

G20

Global activists gather at Rome G20 to demand tougher action on China

Legislators from around the world have gathered on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome to protest against the presence of the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and urge leaders not to let China off the hook over human rights abuses in return for Beijing’s cooperation on the climate crisis.

Many of those at the Rome counter-meeting have been banned from travelling to China as punishment for campaigning against Chinese repression in Xinjiang.

They are due to be addressed remotely by the Taiwanese foreign minister, Joseph Wu, as China steps up its threat to recapture Taiwan. Wu is on his first trip to Europe since 2019 and had been expected in Rome, but the Italian leg of his journey was cancelled with speculation that Rome was unwilling to give him a visa at such a sensitive time.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, was not attending the G20 summit in person. He has recently reaffirmed the reunification of Taiwan as a Chinese goal and increased military activity close to the island. China has described the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac) counter-meeting as a gathering of secessionists.

Joe Biden, in an apparent breach of previous US policy, has pledged to protect Taiwan, but there has been ambivalence inside some western governments on how far to hold back from criticism of China in order to gain its cooperation before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Some Chinese diplomats have said there will be consequences for China’s cooperation on climate if the country’s human rights record is singled out.

The gathering in Rome of Ipac – a body of about 200 global parliamentarians from different political perspectives – is the kind of event that will infuriate China. The group is due to hear from Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, from the Hong Kong activist and former politician Nathan Law, and the Uyghur artist and activist Rahima Mahmut.

Dovilė Šakalienė, a Lithuanian MP who was sanctioned by China in 2020, said: “We are here to ensure that the People’s Republic of China does not get a free pass at this G20. The leaders of the summit must realise very clearly what is at risk when they treat the PRC as an equal member of the club and what is the cost of making Uyghur genocide, Hong Kong and Taiwan bargaining chips. Let us not fool ourselves into trusting the PRC as a reliable partner in fighting the climate crisis, a state that sanctions human rights defenders and is currently imposing draconian population control measures.”

The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, also in Rome, described the Ipac bipartisan meeting as “utterly unprecedented”. He said: “Our collective purpose is to demand of the G20 governments that they publicly recognise the enormous threat posed by the People’s Republic of China.

“Whether it is debauching the financial system, disregarding global trading rules, committing genocide against the Uyghurs, trashing the international treaty on Hong Kong or threatening to invade Taiwan – the time has come to call the PRC out.”

How to handle China is a live issue among some of the G20 leaders, with Biden due to meet the French president, Emmanuel Macron, for the first time since the US formed a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with the UK and Australia, Aukus, which excluded France.

The US was partly motivated by a belief that France was not prepared to take a sufficiently confrontational approach to China. Aukus scuppered an Australian $66bn deal to buy French-made diesel-powered submarines. The French government responded by recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia. Macron has subsequently spoken to Biden twice by phone, and is likely to use his private meeting in Rome to demand that the US give a strong signal of support for a stronger European defence cooperation, a long-term French demand.

In Germany, China is also a live issue, with the likely new German chancellor, the social democrat Olaf Scholz, under pressure from the Green party, his potential coalition partner, to take a tougher line on Taiwan.

Scholz is due to attend the G20 summit alongside the outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel. Germany has been one of the leading European voices backing economic ties with China.

Scholz is negotiating with the German Greens on whether or how to make Taiwan feature in any coalition program. Last week the EU parliament voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of a comprehensive strengthening of relations with Taiwan.

The Bundestag human rights committee last October angered China by holding talks with representatives of Taiwan. A few days ago, the Chinese embassy reminded Germany that China had “consistently supported Germany’s efforts to achieve national unity” and was hoping for “understanding” and “support” in relation to Taiwan. At the same time, the embassy claims that reunification is “the common wish of all Chinese people in the world, including our 23 million compatriots in Taiwan”.

The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy released last month calls for pursuing “deep trade and investment relationships” with Taiwan, particularly in semiconductors.

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Environment

F.G’s Dangote Flood Committee Shares N1.5b Relief Materials To Flood Victims

The Dangote-led Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (PCFRR), known as Dangote Flood Committee has distributed N1.5 billion relief materials to victims of flooding nationwide.

The PCFRR, which was established by the Federal Government following the 2012 flooding, is co-chaired by Africa’s foremost industrialist Aliko Dangote and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba.

The flagging off ceremony for the relief materials distribution for this year started in Borno State and was conducted by the State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum Tuesday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital. The Governor thanked the Dangote Flood Committee and promised that he will ensure that the items get to the victims.

UNICEF revealed that the 2022 flood killed 600 people, displaced 1.3 million and destroyed more than 82,000 homes in Nigeria, therefore making it the worst in decades.

The representative of the committee, Alhaji Umar Musa Gulani, assured at the flagging off for the Northeast zone that the exercise would also be conducted in the other five geopolitical zones of the country.

Gulani said the items from the committee have been officially handed over to the Borno State Government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). He said the exercise would be conducted across the six geo-political zones, beginning from the northeastern State of Borno.

The breakdown of items donated includes 86 bags of rice, 34 bags of beans, 34 bags of maize, 34 bags of millet, 34 bags of Guinea Corn, 34 bags of Garri, 86 cartons of noodles, 86 cartons of spaghetti, 86 cartons of macaroni and 86 bags of sugar, and 857 bags of cement, among several food and non-food items.

Gulani said over N10 billion has been expended by the committee to mitigate the effect of flooding since inception in 2012, adding that no fewer than 84 Hostels have been built for flood victims in 24 states of Nigeria. According to him: “This private sector led project is highly commendable and it has been sustained in the past ten years. It is a selfless service from the private sector and Nigerians should appreciate their selfless service to humanity”.

Director General of NEMA Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed described the Committee’s intervention as a milestone for Nigeria in general, and flood victims in particular. “Responding to the humanitarian outcomes of this nature requires concerted effort,” the DG said, and added that the donation by the Dangote Flood Committee would eventually be made available to flood victims across the affected states in Nigeria.

Speaking on behalf of the victims, Khalifa El-Miskin said the victims were extremely appreciative of the gesture.

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Environment

600 Persons Killed, 1.3m Displaced By Floods – UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund has said at least that 600 persons died and 1.3 million others rendered homeless by floods.

This was disclosed by the Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Juliet Chiluwe, on Saturday, during an official handover of supplies for Anambra State Flood Response from UNICEF to Anambra State Government

Ms Chiluwe said the figure was obtained according to government data available it received.

During the visit by the UNICEF, the first set of supplies of 100 drums of chlorine for disinfection of water sources, 40 cartons of Aquatabs for household water treatment and 320 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic food were handed over to the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who was represented by his deputy, Onyekachukwu Ibezim.

The UNICEF official said, “We acknowledged that since September 2022, the worst floods in a decade affected 2.8 million people, of which an estimated 60 per cent are children, across 34 of the 36 states in Nigeria. Of those affected, 1.3 million people have been displaced, and over 600 people have died in relation to flooding according to government data.

“Continuous heavy rains have collapsed hundreds of public health facilities, water systems and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, and malaria.

“To contribute to the effort of government and other development partners, UNICEF, with funding the Central Emergency Response Fund, has initiated a multisectoral response comprising Health, Child Protection and WASH sectors, to mitigate the impact of the floods support the early recovery-phase of the affected population in Anambra State.“

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Environment

Dantata, Rabiu, Others Gift Jigawa Flood Victims N1b

Nigerian businessman and philanthropist, Alhaji Aminu Dantata, and Abdulsamad Rabiu, the founder of BUA group, on Saturday raised over N1 billion for Jigawa flood victims.

The donations were made in Dutse at the fund raising in support of the 2022 flood victims in the state.

Dantata and Rabiu each donated N200 million, Jigawa State Government N250 million, Gov. Muhammad Badaru, donated N25 million on behalf of himself, family and his company, Talamis Group.

However, Dantata, who was represented by Alhaji Salisu Sambajo, expressed concern over the conditions in which the flood victims found themselves after the disaster.

The philanthropist prayed for those who died during the disaster and sympathised with those who lost their property and crops in the floods.

Similarly, Badaru also expressed appreciation to the teeming donors for their kind gesture and urged the fund raising committee to be equitable and just in the distribution of the palliatives and cash.

The committee Chairman, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, (Wazirin Dutse) and former Minister of Power, thanked individuals and group of companies for supporting the victims.

Other donors included the members of the state and National Assembly as well as Council Chairmen.

Zenith Bank, Jaiz Bank, FCMB, Sterling Bank, GTBANK and Unity Bank were among the financial institutions who made donations.

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