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No Military Officer Has Visited Us Since NAF Bomb Our People – Buwari, Yobe Youth Leader

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Buwari

No military officer has visited us since NAF bomb killed eight of our people – Buwari, Yobe youth leader

Alhaji Ali Buwari is a 30-year old father of four and youth leader in Buwari community, Yobe State. His grandfather, grandmother and uncle were injured when the Nigerian Air Force jet mistakenly bombed the community on Wednesday, last week.

Has the community been attacked by Boko Haram before?

Well, there have been Boko Haram terrorists hibernating around the eastern and western axis of the village where their camps are. From there, they drive into the village on their motorcycles. They have been coming to the village to steal and commit other atrocities but for quite some time now the villagers have chased them out of the village to the dessert. It has been long since they were chased out of the village but you know, they will always find their way into the area once in a while especially when there is no presence of security personnel. That we cannot rule out but they are mostly camped in the dessert. And, in this rainy season, I can say categorically that there is no Boko Haram coming into the village because the river has blocked them from having access with their motorcycles and you know there has been an outbreak of cholera in the village. That has also barred them from entering because they too are afraid of the disease.

How did attack by the Air Force happen? Can you give a vivid account?

The day that unfortunate incident happened was on a Wednesday. The villagers were already prepared to go for the weekly market at Geidam. As early as 7:30am some had set out for the market when, from nowhere, we heard the sound of an aircraft coming from the western axis and then, heavy sounds of bullets shelling everywhere. Then the jet passed through the eastern axis. Instantly, three people died. Before we knew what was happening, we heard loud cries of people as they were running helter skelter trying to hide thinking it was an attack from the insurgents. In the process of running to safety, some got hit by bullets, some by metallic substances while others got hit while trying to tend to the those that died from the bullet. We saw houses on fire but we were not after the houses or material things, we were more interested in saving lives of those affected.

We immediately arranged for vehicles and began to transport the injured victims to Geidam general hospital. We transported 28 people. Among them were women and children while eight persons lost their lives.

When it started, what did you think it was?

Initially when the shooting started we thought it was Boko Haram terrorists that had attacked us. When we discovered it was a military jet, we thought maybe Boko Haram had invaded the village but we then realised that there was no Boko Haram infiltration as such we wondered what happened. We then called our local government chairman and the member representing Yunusari at the state assembly and informed them of the development. They, in turn asked us to evacuate those that sustained injuries to the hospital where the chairman came and met us.

Can you name the victims and the families affected?

In Buwari we are all brothers and sisters because we are all related and it is a relatively small settlement. Everybody knows everyone and everyone is related to all.

I cannot give actual names of those affected by the incident because we are still trying to get the best medical attention for the injured victims while the eight dead bodies have already been buried; so it will be difficult to say so so person is affected but my grandfather, my uncle and my grandmother sustained injuries from the aerial attack by the fighter jet.

Among those killed were women and aged men.

Those who sustained injuries that were taken to the hospital in Geidam are 28, among whom are over10 women and children. Most of the affected persons are aged men, Women and children. The youth are not many.

One particular eight-year-old child was hit by a metal on his forehead and blood was rushing profusely from the wound. When he was brought to the hospital, the doctor recommended the child be rushed to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital where he could receive proper medical attention. As we speak, he is in Maiduguri now but I cannot say anything about his condition.

One of the men that sustained injury and taken to Geidam hospital was, on Saturday referred to Damaturu for further medical attention.

A woman had a broken bone. The bone was badly broken that she too was referred to a hospital in Damaturu.

What is the extent of damage?

I cannot quantify the extent of the damage at this moment because we have yet to take inventory of the property destroyed by the aerial attack. We are not concerned about the property or houses destroyed because we believe it is the will of God and it was ordained by God to happen the way it happened. We are also busy with the injured victims here in the hospital. But houses were burnt down. Properties worth millions of naira were lost in the fire inferno that arose as result of the persistent firepower from the fighter jet.

The eight people that were killed were buried in the evening of that same day in a mass grave.

It will interest you to know that, when we heard that there was a metallic substance that had penetrated the ground in the village, we reported to the military but up till this moment, they have not stepped their feet into the village. Since that attack, no single soldier or policeman has gone to see the level of damage Air Force has done in our village.

What do you want from government?

To start with, Buwari village is the second biggest ward in the Yunusari LGA. We deliver some of the largest number of votes to the ruling APC. Since the return of democracy, we have always voted for the party and candidates the government wants us to vote for. In each of the previous elections, we have always delivered not fewer than 3,000 votes to the government. But that is where it ends. We do not have a single government presence in our village. Even the only local market we built from our hard earned money has been closed. There is no good access road to our village, nothing. Our aged parents living in the village live in perpetual fear of possible attack from the Boko Haram terrorists because there are no security forces around the village.

To paint the whole picture in the right perspective, in all the elections that have been conducted in this country, the ad hoc staff and all security personnel have never got to the village, what we usually do is to hire buses and transport all the electorate from the village and take them to Geidam to cast their votes, after that, we transport them back when they finish voting in the evening.

In the past few weeks, Cholera has killed over 10 people in Buwari village and over 100 are currently receiving treatment at Geidam general hospital. Cholera has badly affected us to the extent that the hospital doesn’t have the facility to contain all patients therefore they only treat the patients and send them back home to return at appointed times for check-up.

This disease is as a result of bad water we consume from the river surrounding the village. We do not have a single source of potable water supply.

Lastly, I want to tell the Governor, Mai Mala that his effort is being sabotaged by those parading themselves as his loyalists from that area because they have continued to take advantage of the insecurity situation in the area to enrich themselves. I have useful information I want to tell him but this powerful aides have continued to frustrate and block me from having access to him. But if he gets to read this interview, tell him that the security situation in Buwari is getting worse and his efforts are being undermined by his subordinates.

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Environment

Global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

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Global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

A new study blames pollution of all types for 9 million deaths a year globally, with the death toll attributed to dirty air from cars, trucks and industry rising 55% since 2000.

That increase is offset by fewer pollution deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste, so overall pollution deaths in 2019 are about the same as 2015.

The United States is the only fully industrialized country in the top 10 nations for total pollution deaths, ranking 7th with 142,883 deaths blamed on pollution in 2019, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Ethiopia, according to a new study in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health. Tuesday’s pre-pandemic study is based on calculations derived from the Global Burden of Disease database and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. India and China lead the world in pollution deaths with nearly 2.4 million and almost 2.2 million deaths a year, but the two nations also have the world’s largest populations.

When deaths are put on a per population rate, the United States ranks 31st from the bottom at 43.6 pollution deaths per 100,000. Chad and the Central African Republic rank the highest with rates about 300 pollution deaths per 100,000, more than half of them due to tainted water, while Brunei, Qatar and Iceland have the lowest pollution death rates ranging from 15 to 23. The global average is 117 pollution deaths per 100,000 people.

Pollution kills about the same number of people a year around the world as cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke combined, the study said.

“9 million deaths is a lot of deaths,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College.

“The bad news is that it’s not decreasing,” Landrigan said. “We’re making gains in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up.”

It doesn’t have to be this way, researchers said.

“They are preventable deaths. Each and every one of them is a death that is unnecessary,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who wasn’t part of the study. She said the calculations made sense and if anything. was so conservative about what it attributed to pollution, that the real death toll is likely higher.

The certificates for these deaths don’t say pollution. They list heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, other lung issues and diabetes that are “tightly correlated” with pollution by numerous epidemiological studies, Landrigan said. To then put these together with actual deaths, researchers look at the number of deaths by cause, exposure to pollution weighted for various factors, and then complicated exposure response calculations derived by large epidemiological studies based on thousands of people over decades of study, he said. It’s the same way scientists can say cigarettes cause cancer and heart disease deaths.

“That cannon of information constitutes causality,” Landrigan said. “That’s how we do it.”

Five outside experts in public health and air pollution, including Goldman, told The Associated Press the study follows mainstream scientific thought. Dr. Renee Salas, an emergency room doctor and Harvard professor who wasn’t part of the study, said “the American Heart Association determined over a decade ago that exposure to (tiny pollution particles) like that generated from the burning of fossil fuels is causal for heart disease and death.”

“While people focus on decreasing their blood pressure and cholesterol, few recognize that the removal of air pollution is an important prescription to improve their heart health,” Salas said.

Three-quarters of the overall pollution deaths came from air pollution and the overwhelming part of that is “a combination of pollution from stationary sources like coal-fired power plants and steel mills on one hand and mobile sources like cars, trucks and buses. And it’s just a big global problem,” said Landrigan, a public health physician. “And it’s getting worse around the world as countries develop and cities grow.”

In New Delhi, India, air pollution peaks in the winter months and last year the city saw just two days when the air wasn’t considered polluted. It was the first time in four years that the city experienced a clean air day during the winter months.

That air pollution remains the leading cause of death in South Asia reconfirms what is already known, but the increase in these deaths means that toxic emissions from vehicles and energy generation is increasing, said Anumita Roychowdhury, a director at the advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.

“This data is a reminder of what is going wrong but also that it is an opportunity to fix it,” Roychowdhury said.

Pollution deaths are soaring in the poorest areas, experts said.

“This problem is worst in areas of the world where population is most dense (e.g. Asia) and where financial and government resources to address the pollution problem are limited and stretched thin to address a host of challenges including health care availability and diet as well as pollution,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, who wasn’t part of the study.

In 2000, industrial air pollution killed about 2.9 million people a year globally. By 2015 it was up to 4.2 million and in 2019 it was 4.5 million, the study said. Toss in household air pollution, mostly from inefficient primitive stoves, and air pollution killed 6.7 million people in 2019, the study found.

Lead pollution — some from lead additive which has been banned from gasoline in every country in the world and also from old paint, recycling batteries and other manufacturing — kills 900,000 people a year, while water pollution is responsible for 1.4 million deaths a year. Occupational health pollution adds another 870,000 deaths, the study said.

In the United States, about 20,000 people a year die from lead pollution-induced hypertension, heart disease and kidney disease, mostly as occupational hazards, Landrigan said. Lead and asbestos are America’s big chemical occupational hazards, and they kill about 65,000 people a year from pollution, he said. The study said the number of air pollution deaths in the United States in 2019 was 60,229, far more than deaths on American roads, which hit a 16-year peak of nearly 43,000 last year.

Modern types of pollution are rising in most countries, especially developing ones, but fell from 2000 to 2019 in the United States, the European Union and Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s numbers can’t quite be explained and may be a reporting issue, said study co-author Richard Fuller, founder of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution and president of Pure Earth, a non-profit that works on pollution clean-up programs in about a dozen countries.

The study authors came up with eight recommendations to reduce pollution deaths, highlighting the need for better monitoring, better reporting and stronger government systems regulating industry and cars.

“We absolutely know how to solve each one of those problems,” Fuller said. “What’s missing is political will.”

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Climate change may increase risk of new infectious diseases

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Climate change may increase risk of new infectious diseases

Climate change will result in thousands of new viruses spread among animal species by 2070 — and that’s likely to increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans, according to a new study.

This is especially true for Africa and Asia, continents that have been hotspots for deadly disease spread from humans to animals or vice versa over the last several decades, including the flu, HIV, Ebola and coronavirus.

Researchers, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Nature, used a model to examine how over 3,000 mammal species might migrate and and share viruses over the next 50 years if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which recent research shows is possible.

They found that cross-species virus spread will happen over 4,000 times among mammals alone. Birds and marine animals weren’t included in the study.

Researchers said not all viruses will spread to humans or become pandemics the scale of the coronavirus but the number of cross-species viruses increases the risk of spread to humans.

The study highlights two global crises — climate change and infectious disease spread — as the world grapples with what to do about both.

Previous research has looked at how deforestation and extinction and wildlife trade lead to animal-human disease spread, but there’s less research about how climate change could influence this type of disease transmission, the researchers said at a media briefing Wednesday.

“We don’t talk about climate a lot in the context of zoonoses” — diseases that can spread from animals to people, said study co-author Colin Carlson, an assistant professor of biology at Georgetown University. “Our study … brings together the two most pressing global crises we have.”

Experts on climate change and infectious disease agreed that a warming planet will likely lead to increased risk for the emergence of new viruses.

Daniel R. Brooks, a biologist at University of Nebraska State Museum and co-author of the book “The Stockholm Paradigm: Climate Change and Emerging Disease,” said the study acknowledges the threat posed by climate change in terms of increasing risk of infectious diseases.

“This particular contribution is an extremely conservative estimate for potential” emerging infectious disease spread caused by climate change, said Brooks.

Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician and interim director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the study confirms long-held suspicions about the impact of warming on infectious disease emergence.

“Of particular note is that the study indicates that these encounters may already be happening with greater frequency and in places near where many people live,” Bernstein said.

Study co-author Gregory Albery, a disease ecologist at Georgetown University, said that because climate-driven infectious disease emergence is likely already happening, the world should be doing more to learn about and prepare for it.

“It is not preventable, even in the best case climate change scenarios,” Albery said.

Carlson, who was also an author on the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said we must cut greenhouse gas and phase out fossil fuels to reduce the risk of infectious disease spread.

Jaron Browne, organizing director of the climate justice group Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, said the study highlights climate injustices experienced by people living in African and Asian nations.

“African and Asian nations face the greatest threat of increased virus exposure, once again illustrating how those on the frontlines of the crisis have very often done the least to create climate change,” Browne said.

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Nigerian govt rules out completion of Ogoni clean-up under Buhari

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Nigerian govt rules out completion of Ogoni clean-up under Buhari

The Minister of Environment, Hassan Abdullahi, said on Thursday the Federal Government cannot complete the ongoing Ogoni clean-up project before the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure next year.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) had in its 2011 report recommended the clean-up of the heavily polluted Ogoni land.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo flagged off the project in June 2016.

Abdullahi, who disclosed this to State House correspondents in Abuja, however, noted that 10 sites had been remediated under the project.

The minister said: “There is nothing miraculous about our approach to the clean-up operations. It is going to be a very pragmatic, practicable and quick-win solution. First, as I told you earlier, is to ensure that there is a multi-stakeholder agreement in terms of what we’re supposed to do, and where we’re going.

“Then secondly, we’ve taken very strong steps to address the concerns bordering on procurement, on project management, on fund management and so on, so that all stakeholders will be on board.

“So, I can assure you that if these issues are resolved within the next couple of weeks, we should be focused on immediate procurement processes that will ensure that the projects are implemented as at when due.

“However, they are phased projects, we do not envisage that we can finish the entire project within the lifetime of this government. However, the process that we can do at the moment, the procurement that we can do at the moment, to ensure that there is immediate irrigation, water projects to ensure that there is clean water provided for the people and that other sites, will begin the remediation process.

“This is done in liaison with UNEP and our sister agency, NESDRA. So, we are on course, we’ll do the best we can and I can assure you that we will cover some mileage in the process.

“So, there is no magic or miracle about it, we are focused on what we want to do. Like I told you, Mr President said our eyes must be on the ball and that’s what we’re trying to do.

“I had the opportunity to present to Mr President, in accordance with the key priorities of the ministry, certain key projects that are undergoing some sort of review and seeking direction from Mr. President.”

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