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Activist tackles China over alleged forced repatriation of North-Koreans



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A North Korean defector who fled the country when he was 17, Ilhyeok Kim
has knocked China after reports emerged that the Chinese government allegedly willy-nilly returned more than 500 North Korean defectors.
Speaking at the United Nations Security Council meeting held in August, Kim
alleged that defectors sent back to North Korea were made to suffer series of punishments including forced labor, imprisonment, torture, or execution.

In a brief chat with newsmen to commemorate the Korea National Day Reception held in Abuja on November 2, the North Korean defector who currently resides in South Korea called on the Republic of China to uphold its obligations as a permanent member of the United Nations.

According to him, China subscribed to the 1982 Refugee Convention which prohibits the expulsion or return of refugees to places where their lives or freedom may be threatened. Moreover, Kim said that China also signed the 1988 Convention Against Torture banning expulsion and return to countries where there is a risk of torture.

Emphasis on the fact that North Korean defectors are recognized as refugees under these international law was made by Kim, he however expressed dismayed that the Chinese government refused to acknowledge them as such which he claimed is obviously in violation of international law.
When deported, Kim disclosed that defectors are often subjected to forced labour in re-education camps or correctional facilities, where they barely survive while enduring harsh treatments.

“In many cases, they are taken to political prisoner camps and never get to see the outside world again, even until death. Even worse, some might face public executions by way of exemplary punishment to the public. One of the serious offenses in North Korea is called a “betrayal of the party and the homeland” which can lead to a public execution, serving as violent means by the party to force loyalty to the regime”, he added.

The Alleged Forced Repatriation is in contrast to the Mutual aid and cooperation treaty which the China Authority ratified with North Korea since 1961, Kim noted further.

In Spite of international condemnation, Kim lamented that the China Government has continued to ignore the human rights agreement it signed.

Kim called on the South Korean government and international community;

“The remaining 2,000 or so North Korean refugees who are at imminent risk of forced repatriation by the Chinese regime should be allowed to reach any places on their own will. The approximately 600 defectors who have already been repatriated likely face severe realities.

“The South Korean government and the international community must collaborate to ensure that the remaining North Korean defectors in China can find freedom. If we do not make efforts and simply stand by, many innocent people will die while gazing at the same sky we see. North Korean refugees can live one more ordinary day like.

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COP15: How Countries reach agreement to protect land, water resources




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By Obabueki Victor Nosakhare

Participant countries at the United Nations Biodiversity conference, COP15, in Montreal, Canada have adopted a new Global Biodiversity Framework, guiding actions worldwide through 2030, to preserve and protect our natural resources.

190 countries at the United Nations Biodiversity conference, COP15, reached an agreement to protect 30 per cent of the world’s lands and oceans amidst ongoing efforts to protect and reverse declining biodiversity.

The Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Runqiu, who is leading the COP15 meeting disclosed this on Monday.

His announcement came shortly after a representative of the delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo objected to the text, causing some African nations to protest at the manner in which the outcome was proclaimed.

The passing of the deal comes a day before the end of COP15 in Montreal, Canada, and over a decade ago after parties failed significantly to fulfil COP10’s ambitious targets agreed upon in 2010.

During COP10, governments agreed to strive for ambitious targets by 2020, including halving natural habitat loss, and implementing plans for sustainable consumption and production. But none of these targets were fully met, according to a 2020 UN report.

This year, the UN Biodiversity Conference, billed for 7-19 December, is where negotiators will set new targets and goals aimed at arresting the destruction of nature, due to human activity.

COP15 is expected to lead to the adoption of a new Global Biodiversity Framework, guiding actions worldwide through 2030, to preserve and protect our natural resources.

Heralded as a sweeping deal to protect biodiversity loss, the most significant part of the agreement is the commitment to protect 30 per cent of land and water considered important for biodiversity before the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, scientists have posited that only 17 per cent of terrestrial and 10 per cent aquatic areas (marine) are protected currently.

The agreement envisages putting $200 billion toward supporting biodiversity by 2030, with another $500 billion to be possibly raised by phasing out or reforming subsidies, such as those for food or fuel.

The COP15 deal also calls for giving low-income countries far more than is currently provided for their efforts to protect nature. This amount is envisaged to reach at least $20 billion annually by 2025 and might subsequently increase to $30 billion by 2030.

Negotiators also agreed to manage the remaining 70 per cent of the planet to prevent losing areas of high importance to biodiversity and to ensure that big businesses disclose biodiversity risks and impacts from their operations.

Commenting on the deal, Brian O’Donnell, Campaign for Nature Director, a coalition of conservation groups, described the agreement as “ a huge moment for nature” .

“This is a scale of conservation that we haven’t seen ever attempted before,” the director was quoted to have said.

Similarly, Joseph Onoja, a biologist who directs the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, noted that the former colonial powers had grown rich by exploiting natural resources all over the world.

“They came around and plundered our resources to develop themselves,” he said.

He added that developing countries are trying to use natural resources for their own growth, they’re being told they must preserve them in the name of global conservation.

Mr Onoja said he believes in protecting nature but wants industrialised countries to be held accountable for past actions.

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Highlighting key benefits of 2022 U.S.-Africa Summit




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By Obabueki Victor Nosakhare

The 2022 U.S.- Africa Summit has come and gone but the key benefits for the African continent will continue to speak for years to come.

The three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit which held between December 13-15 had President Biden inviting 49 African heads of state and the head of the African Union to Washington, D.C.

The most important goal of the historic summit was to build and expand vital political, economic, and strategic partnerships, as well as people-to-people dialogue, based on mutual interests and shared priorities in Africa.

The summit’s agenda included increasing sustainable food production, strengthening health systems, providing humanitarian assistance, responding to the climate crisis, reinforcing democracy and human rights, boosting U.S.-African trade, advancing peace and security, and even enhancing space research and cooperation.

President Biden believed that U.S. collaboration with African leaders, as well as civil society, business, diaspora, women, and youth leaders, is essential to addressing these shared challenges.

According to U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard, the summit presented opportunities to deepen U.S.-Nigeria bilateral ties on multiple levels.

In the build up to the summit, Leonard said: “We look forward not only to the Nigerian government’s robust participation in the summit, but also to hearing the views of all stakeholders in Nigeria’s promising future, including independent voices from the private sector, civil society, young people, women, and all those who are working to build a strong and inclusive democracy.”

Among other benefits, the summit was also an opportunity for the United States and the American people to reiterate their profound and enduring interest in engaging with Africa as a whole.

As Secretary of State Blinken noted during his trips to Nigeria last year and to other countries in the region earlier last year, Africa’s demographic growth and economic potential will shape not just the future of its people, it will also shape the world.

The African continent will hope to recant the testimonies of the benefits of resolutions and agreements reached in this unique summit when these leaders gather together in 2023.

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Ukraine liberates 40% of territory occupied by Russia since Feb 2022: official




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By Obabueki Victor Nosakhare

Ukrainian forces have liberated 40% of the territory Russian gained after it invaded its southern neighbor more than 10 months ago, Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi confirmed Monday.

Of the five regions where Russian forces remain, including Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea, roughly 28% has been freed from occupation.

Zaluzhnyi described 2022 as, “A year that forever changed us, our present and future. A year that went down in world history.”

Emergency service workers extinguish a fire after shelling on the Bakhmut frontline in Ivanivske, Ukraine as Russia-Ukraine war continues on Jan. 2, 2023.

The official said the active front line that continues to divide Ukraine’s eastern regions is roughly 930 miles long with heavy fighting taking place particularly in Donetsk.

Areas like Bakhmut have seen heavy ground fighting for months with trench warfare and a constant barrage of shelling from both sides.

In a rare admission of wartime losses, Russia said on Monday that some 63 Russian servicemen were killed after Ukraine hit its military barracks in the settlement of Makiyivka, roughly 50 miles south of Bakhmut and located in the Donbas region which has seen fighting by Russian-backed groups since 2014,

Some reports have suggested the death toll from the attack that occurred around midnight at the start of the New Year could be significantly higher.

Soldiers of the 59th brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces fire grad missiles on Russian positions in Russia-occupied Donbas region on Dec. 30, 2022, in Donetsk, Ukraine.

“Every day, the Armed Forces fight not only for Ukraine but also for like-minded Europe, for preserving peace, security, and freedom in the whole world. And we will definitely win,” Zaluzhnyi said according to a translation by the Kyiv Independent.

The U.K. defense ministry assessed on Tuesday that Russia had increased the presence of its Wagner mercenary group in Donetsk around Bakhmut in December as fighting escalated, but noted its “operations were poorly supported.”

The ministry said that in response to the escalation Ukraine over the past 10 days committed “significant reinforcements to defend the sector,” and Russian assaults have likely been reduced since mid-December when they peaked.

Shells are prepared for the day as Ukrainian tanks from the second company of the tank battalion are positioned on the frontline on Dec. 25, 2022, in Donetsk, Ukraine.

However, the ministry also noted that “both sides have suffered high casualties.”

“Russian offensive operations in the area are now likely being conducted at only platoon or section level,” the assessment continued. “It is unlikely Russia will achieve a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in the coming weeks.”

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