Published On: Sat, Jun 22nd, 2013

PHOTOS/STORY:Succour for Flood Victims as UN Chief Visits Delta State

(L-R) Gen Ike Nwachukwu (RTD), United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos and Delta State Gov, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan

LAGOS JUNE 21ST, (URHOBOTODAY) United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos visited Asaba, Delta State, for on the spot assessment of 2012 flood impact on flood victims where she disclosed that a modest amount of money has been pooled towards supporting the flood victims and also pledged the commitment of the UN in extending technical support to the Delta State Government towards preventing future occurrences and more efficient management of disaster situations. Oghenekevwe Laba who was at the town hall meeting reports

(R-L) Baroness Valerie Amos receiving bunch of flowers from a little girl on arrival at Asaba Airport while Hon Oma Djeba and Chief Fred Majemite watched with admiration

Excerpts
Delta State has successfully launched herself into the global community as United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness visited Asaba, the State capital on Saturday June 15, 2013.

(R-L) Delta State Governor Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan presenting survenir to United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos

Baroness Amos, a former United Kingdom (UK) Minister of International Development as well as Leader of the British House of Lords was on an on-the-spot fact finding and assessment mission following the devastating flood that wreaked havoc in 12 Local Governments in the State following her invitation by Dr State Governor Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON, and subsequent high-level meetings between Hon Oma Djebah, Senior Adviser on Foreign Relations to the Governor in New York.

Cross section of delegates of United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos

The meetings which were held between Delta State Government delegation led by Hon Djebah and the OCHA team in New York and Abuja culminated in the high level visit by the high-profile international Diplomat, Baroness Amos to Delta State to assess the level of devastation occasioned by the flood.

(L-) Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Gen Ike Nwachukwu (RTD) and The Senior Adviser (Foreign Relations) to the Governor, Hon Djebah

The flooding which occurred during the last quarter of 2012, rendered parts of the State desolate, destroying farmlands, infrastructure, shelter and lives of citizens of Delta State.

(R-L) Hon Sunny Emeyese, Chief Ighotota Amori, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Senator James Manager and Barrister Odebala

In the aftermath of the flood, the Delta State Government took various intervening measures to substantially assuage its effect on the affected people and communities.

Governor of Delta State Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan delivering his welcom speech


Amongst the initial steps taken by the State were the deployment of emergency relief materials to forestall any major health and other critical hazards and the setting up of temporary shelter and relief camps to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the flood.

Cross section of traditional rulers


The State Governor, HE Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, CON promptly inaugurated a Committee headed by Professor Eric Arubayi, the Vice Chancellor of Delta State University, Abraka, to carry out a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) so as to determine the extent of damage while also assessing the quantum of aid and intervention required.

Hon Oma Djebah, Senior Adviser on Foreign Relations to the Governor delivering his speech


The Federal Government, through the relevant agencies, also adopted and implemented programs to complement the efforts of the Delta State Government. The State received commendable financial and material support from individuals and corporate bodies which assisted the State in its early intervention. Governor Uduaghan led the call for assistance from various other organizations, international institutions and NGOs, imploring them to contribute their quota in alleviating the sufferings of the displaced people, explaining that the burden was too heavy for the State Government to bear alone.

Cross section of school children


The call for international support was acceded to by some foreign NGOs and multilateral organizations. In particular, the attention of the United Nations Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which is the United Nations focal point in response to humanitarian emergencies and major disasters, was drawn to the critical situation in Delta State. This prompted the OCHA to begin the process of establishing whether or not the flood crises in Delta and other parts of Nigeria were to be classified as “emergencies” which would trigger multilateral assistance coordinated by OCHA.

(L-R) United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos iscussing with Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan


In view of this, the OCHA sought and received a copy of the PDNA prepared by the Committee set up by the Delta State Government and also scheduled follow-up meetings and briefings. Following the directives of His Excellency, Governor Uduaghan, the Senior Adviser (Foreign Relations) to the Governor, Honourable Oma Djebah, led the interface with the OCHA and maintained constructive correspondences with the UN body in the New York and Nigeria offices. At the earlier meeting in New York, Mr. Djebah seized the opportunity to appraise the PDNA report earlier transmitted to the OCHA and also discussed the modalities for accessing any of the pooled funds managed by OCHA, including the Central Emergency Response Fund, Common Humanitarian Funds and Emergency Response Funds to further buoy the State’s relief effort. The effort, which was complemented by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, culminated in the securing a commitment of the UN support to the flood victims in Delta State.

(L-R)Professor Pat Utomi and a dignitory


In the light of the progress made in this regard, Delta State will benefit from about $6m deployed by OCHA through the UNDP, WHO and other UN implementing agencies aimed at tackling development and health concerns in some of the affected regions in the country. Mr. Djebah subsequently met with the Head of the Country Office of OCHA’s in order to help prioritize the endeavors of the UN agency with regards to the sectors requiring immediate relief assistance.
To further demonstrate the United Nations’ support to the flood victims in Nigeria and particularly in Delta State, USG Baroness Amos scheduled a visit to Asaba, Delta State on Saturday, June 15th, 2013. This would be the first visit of a top United Nations functionary to Delta State.

U(L-R) Gen Ike Nwachukwu (RTD), United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos and Delta State Gov, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan


In preparation for the visit, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, envisioned that, in order for the State and the affected citizens to take full advantage of the USG’s visit, a special programme of events be scheduled to mark the visit. In view of this, a Town-Hall meeting with the USG, community heads and traditional rulers of the areas most affected by the flood, a cross section of the flood victims, representatives of the State Government as well as the Chairman and members of the “Flood Committee” that carried out the PDNA was arranged. The meeting achieved its aim of re-assuring a critical mass of the flood victims that they had not been forgotten and that the State had reinvigorated its commitment by attracting the most strategic relief agency to its shores and securing technical and other support to ameliorate their sufferings and forestall future similar disasters. The meeting will also usher in a significant opportunity for some of the flood victims to present their most pressing concerns before the United Nations under Secretary-General while many of them also seized the moment to express their gratitude to the State Government for the efforts in managing the aftermath of the flood crises.

(L-R) Hon Keston Okoro, Chief Judith Enamuotor and Hon Mercy Almona-Isei


The Town-Hall meeting, which was chaired by the very distinguished Senator (Gen.) Ike Nwachukwu had about two thousand people in attendance. It also featured some very emotional moments elicited by a documentary on the visit to the flood affected areas by the State Governor as well as live rendition of personal experiences by some of the flood victims. Delivering his remark, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan delineated the various steps taken by the Government since the flood crisis especially the Quick Impact Projects identified and implemented by the State such as setting up temporary schools and clinics within the relief camps and training flood victims on new vocations especially those whose trade and sources of livelihood had been decimated as a result of the flood. These steps, the Governor noted, were taken to ensure that the humanitarian crises did not degenerate to a conflict event.
Speaking further on the imperative for effective natural disaster management and the need to prevent its escalation to man-made crises, Dr. Uduaghan stated that “crisis event, even when they exist only in the regions, have a penchant for snowballing to the entire country. This is an eventuality that we must continue to work collaboratively with your office to avoid.” While commending the USG for her visit, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan noted that “the presence of a UN high-level delegation on humanitarian persuasions will go a long way in comforting the victims of the various communities affected by the flood, and in reassuring them that they are not alone but that the international community is willing and able to walk the tough road with them.” He added that “We equally believe that your visit will usher in a more strengthened partnership with the UN, the international community as well as other state and non-state actors, with a view to articulating coordinated measures towards avoiding any form of crisis event in the future that can crystallize to a humanitarian emergency.”
Thanking the USG, Dr. Uduaghan concluded his remark by stating that, “I must stress that the Government and people of Delta State are extremely delighted to have USG Baroness Amos in their midst. As the UK’s first black female cabinet minister, and the first black woman at the House of Lords, who would later rise to lead the hallowed chamber, you are indeed a great inspiration to the people of our clime. I therefore want to thank you once again, Excellency, for showing immense commitment and dedication to our humanitarian challenges and for working so stridently with us on this noble cause.”

The Senior Adviser (Foreign Relations) to the Governor, Hon Oma Djebah (R) discussing with some important personalities in the event


The Senior Adviser (Foreign Relations) to the Governor, Hon Djebah who introduced the event, recalled the staggering global statistics of people whose lives have been shattered by various forms of disasters. He stated that the numbers buttress “the enormity of the task facing the Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.” He noted that “in spite of the highlighted challenges, however, the OCHA has been able to pool a significant amount of funds in favor of the many victims of the flood disaster in Nigeria” adding that “this underscores the depth of our appreciation to you, Excellency, for, not only accommodating the emergency situation in our state, but also for ensuring that notwithstanding the many emergency situations worldwide competing for attention and resources, the flood victims in Delta were not left to their unfortunate fate.”

U(L-R) Gen Ike Nwachukwu (RTD), United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Baroness Valerie Amos and Delta State Gov, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan


In identifying the role of diplomacy in solving socio-political issues, Mr. Djebah stated that “in expression of our prescience, and as a complement to our developmental focus, we are exploring ways of leveraging our diplomatic access in solving some of our most daunting socio-economic challenges. We see prospects for tremendous mutual success in this regard. Since negative socio-economic indices are ingredients for instability that often results in humanitarian crises, it follows that if we can achieve socio-economic or humanitarian stability, we ease your burden as well as the burdens of our development partners.”
In her address, the USG, Baroness Amos thanked His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for his tremendous assistance and support to the flood victims stating that the attestations of the flood victims themselves reinforced her appreciation to the Governor. The USG, while informing the audience that a “modest” amount of money has been pooled towards supporting the flood victims, also pledged the commitment of the OCHA in extending technical support to the Delta State Government towards preventing future occurrences and more efficient management of disaster situations.

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