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UK Accused Of Ignoring Plight Of Green Activists In Afghanistan

UK accused of ignoring plight of green activists in Afghanistan

Environmental campaigners who worked with UK officials fear for their lives after receiving death threats

The UK government has been accused of ignoring the plight of three environmental activists from Afghanistan who worked with British officials to mitigate the damaging impact of climate change on their country before the Taliban takeover.

The campaigners, who have received credible threats to their lives, do not know the fate of one of their colleagues who was detained by the Taliban.

The three were employed via Oxford Policy Management, an international development consulting firm, to carry out work for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on climate change. They are now in hiding.

Repeated letters and emails to the FCDO have gone unanswered along with applications to the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy scheme (Arap).

One of the climate activists, Mohammed, who spoke from his hiding place in Kabul, said he feared the Taliban were closing in.

“Sometimes I think I’ll just go and surrender to the Taliban so they can kill me and it will all be over,” he said. “It is hard to explain to my young son why I cannot take him to the park. We have begged the UK government to rescue us but so far our pleas have been ignored.”

Greta Thunberg tweeted an appeal to help environmental activists from Fridays for Future get out of Afghanistan.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, of the Taliban’s cultural commission, pledged to work with the global community to fight issues such as climate change in an interview with Newsweek. However, Mohammed said he did not believe the Taliban were committed to tackling the climate emergency.

“So far the Taliban has not appointed a minister for the environment. They believe the climate crisis is all arranged by Allah and humans should not intervene,” he said.

While the Taliban have previously made pro-environment statements such as one in 2017 urging people to go out and plant trees to beautify the planet, the group has also been implicated in illegal logging, planting landmines in pomegranate orchards and taxing opium poppy farmers.

While Afghanistan is responsible for only 0.03% of global emissions, the country is severely affected by climate change.

The economy is heavily dependent on farming with up to 85% of Afghans engaged in agriculture, growing crops such as wheat, potatoes and various fruits. The country has been badly affected by drought, flash floods and deforestation. Opium poppies are favoured by some farmers because they are drought-resistant and generate reliable income.

Afghanistan has many minerals that could assist with tackling climate change. Along with copper, iron, gold and cobalt, it has lithium that is needed to manufacture batteries for use in electric cars and other technology that uses renewable energy. However, extracting these minerals is challenging and unlikely to happen imminently.

The environmental activists say that as each hour passes the risk of the Taliban finding where they are hiding increases.

“The Taliban are too brutal,” said Mohammed. “They are lying to the media when they say they have changed for the better. They are even more brutal than before. One of our colleagues was contacted by the Taliban before they took over Kabul. He was told: ‘We have a list of all your colleagues who worked with the infidels. We will look for you and we will find you.’ Then he started naming our colleagues.”

In a letter dated 1 September to Dominic Raab, who was then foreign secretary, Oxford Policy Management wrote that the three climate change campaigners who had worked with the FCDO “are at imminent threat having already received several threats on their lives”. To date, no reply has been received.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK’s evacuation operation helped over 15,000 people to safety including British nationals, Afghan interpreters and other vulnerable people. The Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need. It is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever and will welcome 5,000 Afghans in the first year and 20,000 over the coming years.”

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Environment

Alake Unveils Mining Marshals To Secure Mining Sites

In fulfilment of a major plank of his 7-point agenda to create a new security architecture to secure mining sites, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake has unveiled a 2,200-strong Mines Marshal to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws.

Formally receiving the marshals drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) from the Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, representing the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Alake charged the new operatives to stem theft and all nefarious activities around the nation’s mineral resources so that the nation can reap maximum benefits from its God-given resources.

It will be recalled that as a result of the efforts of the presidential Inter-ministerial committee on securing natural resources chaired by Dr. Alake, the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo, a few weeks ago launched the NSCDC-led mines marshal, which represents the first layer of the new security architecture to secure the mining environment.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mines marshal will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development(MSMD), with an initial 60 operatives deployed in each state and the FCT.

Highlighting the role played by his interior counterpart in the evolution of the new security outfit, Dr. Alake commended Hon. Olubunmi-Ojo for putting words to actions and working tirelessly with the solid minerals ministry to achieve the feat.

“Today’s event of unveiling and formally handing over the specially trained and selected civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee chaired by me. I am very happy to let the public know that from the outset we said are going to tackle insecurity in the mining sector and the first batch of the security apparati is what we are launching today, the Minister added.

The mines marshal devised to be an inter-agency security outfit will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others. Its operations will largely be technologically driven.

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi stated that the new mines marshal will give verve to the corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure in which solid minerals is a major component.

Audi revealed that the marshals will liaise with mine inspectorate in states to garner intelligence and take directives from the ministry for effective execution of its mandate.

“We have a list of illegal miners across the nation, and we will go after them. Their days are now numbered, “Audi declared.

The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gbefwi, who graced the occasion, expressed satisfaction with the new security outfit, noting that with improved security around mining areas, Nigeria’s economic fortunes is bound for a forward leap.

” When the Minister reeled out his 7-point agenda during his inaugural address, which included the Mines Police, not a few people were sceptical about it. But today, he has matched words with action. On behalf of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I doff my hat for him and say, “Well done.” You can be rest assured of the continued support and cooperation of the House of Reps and, by extension, the National Assembly, Hon. Gbefwi said.

The new Mines Marshal is led by a Commander, Chief Superintendent of Corps, CSC Attah John Onoja.

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Environment

NiMET Predicts 3-day sunshine, thunderstorms

There will be sunshine and thunderstorms from Saturday to Monday across the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted.

A release on Friday in Abuja, according to NiMet’s weather outlook, forecasts a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Saturday, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Kebbi and Sokoto states.

“Thunderstorms are also expected over parts of Kaduna, Kebbi,and Zamfara states later in the day,” the agency reports.

It explained that the sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds is anticipated over the north-central cities, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Niger, adding that during the afternoon and evening hours, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, the Federal Capital Territory, and Plateau states.

It also explained that a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states and the coastal cities of the south, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

The agency envisaged that there would be thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states later in the day and anticipates a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Sunday, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, and Bauchi states during the afternoon and evening hours.

It also predicted a sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds over the North Central cities with prospects of afternoon and evening thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau states, as well as a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states later in the day.

According to the agency, there would be prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Oyo, Osun, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos states in the afternoon and evening periods.

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Environment

NiMET forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has forecast sunshine and haziness from Monday to Wednesday nationwide.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja, predicted sunny and hazy atmosphere on Monday over the northern region throughout the forecast period.

It said cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine are expected over the North Central states with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Benue State during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Benue and Kogi.

“Increased cloudy condition is anticipated in the morning hours over Inland states of South and coastal cities with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Rivers and Delta states.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states,“ it said.

The agency said that a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday with chances of localized thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Kaduna stakes during the evening hours.

It expected patches of clouds over the North Central region with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

The agency forecast localised thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states later in the day.

It envisaged cloudy skies over the inland areas of the South and the coastal cities with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Lagos State during the morning periods.

NiMet anticipated localised thunderstorms over parts of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Delta states in the afternoon and evening hours.

According to the agency, a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Wednesday.

“Increased cloudy condition with chances of early morning thunderstorms is expected over parts of Plateau, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localized thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

“Cloudy skies are expected over inland cities of South and Coast with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states in the morning hours,“ it said.

NiMet anticipated localized thunderstorms over parts of Abia, Ogun, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, River and Lagos States in the afternoon and evening hours.

The agency called on the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds might precede rains in areas where thunderstorms were likely to occur.

“Temperature values are still high especially in the North, please stay hydrated. Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations,” it said.

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