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U.S. Pledges To Support Nigeria’s Fight Against Modern-day Slavery

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The U.S. government on Thursday pledged to support Nigeria in its efforts to combat modern-day slavery and all forms of human trafficking and smuggling.

Ms Kathleen FlitzGibbon, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, said this at an event organised to commemorate the 2022 National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

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The event, held in collaboration with the DEVATOP Center for African Development under its “TALKAM” Human Rights Project, had the theme “improving awareness on Human Trafficking and increasing Reportage of Cases”.

According to FlitzGibbon, human trafficking has taken various forms and is also known as modern-day slavery which requires collaborative efforts to effectively tackle.

READ ALSO: CBN Reduces Charges On E-transactions

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She said that in Nigeria, modern-day slavery had continued to thrive under the guise of relatives taking young girls and boys out of the villages to the city to give them education.

She said that the training of advocates by DEVATOP center would help bring some of the tricks to the limelight and sensitise those in rural communities so that they do not fall victims.

FlitzGibbom further said that deepening partnerships with a broad array of stakeholders inside and outside government was therefore critical to bolstering Nigeria’s anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling efforts.

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“What we see at the countrysides which are the aunties in the villages seeking help from people to get education for their children by sending them off to the cities to work in somebody’s house.

“And we know that traditional part has become a major form of trafficking, and we do have a lot of attention in Nigeria with prostitution into Italy.

“The biggest problem for all African countries is the domestic servitude part of it,” she said.

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The deputy chief said that type of training for civil societies was a plus multiplier for NAPTIP, the police, immigration, and other law enforcement agencies.

“Because when you see something, you say something to them they can take action. So this programme is so great.

“Human Trafficking has no place in a society that values freedom and the rule of law, hence for these reasons, the United States stands with Nigeria in its fight against trafficking,” FlitzGibbon said.

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Dr Fatima Waziri- Azi, Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) commended DEVATOP Center for African Development for its advocacy which was yielding visible results.

Waziri-Azi, represented by Mrs Roseline Abare, NAPTIP’s Chief Intelligent Officer, Public Enlightenment Department said the agency was pleased to work with the center full of youths with drive.

“TALKAM Human Rights project is a valuable initiative especially as it focuses on combatting human trafficking and related human rights abuses.

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“It is also very commendable that TALKAM project, with the support of the U.S. Embassy, Abuja, is marking this year’s National Human Trafficking Month in graduating 40 human rights advocates.

“Driving the nexus between the visions of the DEVATOP Center and the responsibilities of NAPTIP.

“As an NGO that is also led by the youths, we, NAPTIP applaud your aggressive nature towards your impacting over a million people through training, sensitisations, and awareness campaigns.

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READ ALSO: Nigerian Actress Accuses Pastor Of Sexually Assaulting Her Sister

“NAPTIP is pleased to work with you and wishes you more success in your endeavours,” Waziri-Azi said.

Also, Mrs Victoria Oladiran, DEVATOP Center Communication’s Associate said it would continue to carry out sensitisation and campaigns in the society to tackle the menace.

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Oladiran said that the center had trained over 50 advocates who would in turn carry out extensive sensitisation in their communities. (NAN)

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US Ending Abortion Right Huge Blow To Human Rights – UN Chief

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The decision by the United States Supreme Court on Friday to end the right to abortion is “a huge blow to women’s rights and gender equality”, the United Nations Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, said.

“Access to safe, legal, and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law and is at the core of women and girls’ autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives,” Bachelet said in a statement.

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“This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the US, in particular, those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities.

“More than 50 countries with restrictive laws have relaxed their abortion laws in the past 25 years,” the former Chilean president said.

With today’s ruling, the US is regrettably moving away from this progressive trend.”

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The ruling does not make terminations illegal but returns the United States to the situation before the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 when each state was free to allow them or not.

Several US states announced measures to ban abortions in their jurisdiction shortly after the court’s announcement.

READ ALSO: Abortion: US Supreme Court Ruling Big Step Backwards, Says Boris Johnson

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UN human rights experts denounced the Supreme Court decision and urged US President Joe Biden to take all necessary measures to mitigate its consequences.

Describing the ruling as shocking and dangerous, the experts branded it “a monumental setback for the rule of law and for gender equality”, in a joint statement.

They said the move would increase the number of women and girls seeking clandestine and unsafe abortions and would fuel abortion stigma, creating “a nightmare scenario for those dealing with the uncertainty and trauma of an unplanned pregnancy.”

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The statement was backed by eight special rapporteurs and the UN working group on discrimination against women and girls.

UN experts do not speak for the global body but report their findings to it.

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Fears As Drought Hits Italy’s Hydroelectric Power Plants

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Hydroelectric power in Italy has been affected as a result of a drought that has sparked water restrictions and also posed fears for the agricultural industry, sources said on Friday.

Hydropower facilities, mostly located in the mountains in the country’s North, provide almost one-fifth of Italy’s energy demands.

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But the lack of rain is causing problems, at a time when Rome is desperately trying to wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas due to the war in Ukraine.

“From January to May 2022, hydro production fell by about 40 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2021,” a spokesman for Utilitalia, a federation of water companies, told reporters.

“Hydro production has been steadily decreasing since July 2021,” he said, blaming “the severe shortage of water even at high levels.”

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An industry source told newsmen that while the situation was constantly changing, estimates for the first six months of 2022 suggested nationwide hydroelectric generation would be almost half the equivalent period of 2021.

One small plant near Piacenza, southeast of Milan, was shut indefinitely on June 21 due to low levels on the River Po that feeds it, the Enel energy company said.

Considering the current drought situation, other hydro plants are not operating at full capacity,” a spokesman added, without giving further details.

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The Po River is Italy’s largest reservoir of fresh water. Much of it used by farmers, but it is suffering its worst drought for 70 years.

READ ALSO: War: Ukraine Forces Withdraw From Battlefront As Russia Forces Take Over

Italy’s largest agricultural association, Coldiretti, said the drought is putting over 30 per cent of national agricultural production and half of livestock farming in the Po Valley at risk.

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On Friday, the northern region of Lombardy called a state of emergency due to the drought, that recommends, among other measures, less water use by consumers and directs mayors to curtail non-essential water use, such as street washing and watering parks and sportsgrounds.

Further to the west in Piedmont, water is being rationed in more than 200 municipalities, according to the ANSA news agency.

The Maggiore and Garda lakes are both far lower than usual for this time of year, while further South, the level of the River Tiber that runs through Rome has also dropped.

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War: Ukraine Forces Withdraw From Battlefront As Russia Forces Take Over

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Ukraine has begun withdrawing its forces from Severodonetsk as Russian forces take over the region.

The withdrawal operation is expected to last a few days as the head of the Severodonetsk district military administration, Roman Vlasenko told CNN.

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“As of now, the Ukrainian military still remains in Severodonetsk,” Vlasenko said on Friday. “They are being withdrawn from the city at the moment. It started yesterday.

“There are a lot of units there, so I think the withdrawal will take a few days,” he added, without specifying where they were withdrawing to.

READ ALSO: EU, NATO Forming Coalition To Fight Russia – Minister

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Vlasenko went on to say that 568 civilians were also in the city, inside the Azot plant.

“They will be able to get out as soon as the shelling is over, but to the occupied territory,” he added.

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