Foreign players in the French League will not need to be quarantined after returning from FIFA World Cup play-off duty, the French sports ministry has ruled.
This follows a change in policy by the ministry over imposing quarantine restrictions on foreign players in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 returning from FIFA World Cup qualifiers outside the European Union (EU).
“We confirm that international players returning from official competitions outside the EU with their national team, whether French or foreign, are exempt from the seven-day waiting period as long as they comply with a strict sanitary and medical protocol (bubble + daily PCR test on their return to their club),” said the Sports Ministry, according to the FIFA media outlet.
Earlier this week, the French league said that Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs “would not make available for selection the foreign players summoned for matches outside the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March.”
FIFA said last month that clubs were not expected to release players during the international window if there is a “mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival” in the country where the club is located or the country where the match is taking place.
But on 19 March, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, urged clubs to let their players leave for international duty.
“We are living in a very difficult situation, especially but not only in Europe with regard to the COVID-19,” Infantino said following the latest FIFA council meeting.
“Health has to remain a priority which is why we relaxed our rules a bit. (But) obviously we would like the March games to go ahead with the best possible squads.
“We call on all parties to understand that national team football is very important for the vast majority of countries round the world,” he added.
The South American Football Confederation called off its qualification matches planned for the upcoming window over player availability issues.
Qualifiers in the Asian region have also been postponed due to COVID-19.
World Bank constructs 10 solar boreholes, rehabilitates 170 hand pumps in Yobe
Ten new solar boreholes have been constructed by the World Bank across the 17 local government areas of Yobe State.
It also rehabilitated a total of 170 hand pumps.
This was disclosed by the project coordinator of the World Bank’s Multi Sectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP), Alhaji Musa Jidawa, in a solidarity message on the 2021 World Water Day celebration in Damaturu.
The World Water Day is an international day celebrated annually on March 22.
It is designated to celebrate water and raise awareness of the global water crisis and a core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
Jidawa said: “In areas where projects had been completed and handed over to communities, such facilities are maximally benefitting both residents and livestock with efficient sources of water, provided in accordance with MCRP’s build back better principle.
“To ensure effective operation and maintenance of WASH facilities, community trainable and interested individuals were identified and trained on Village Level Operation and Maintenance (VLOM).
He added that in line with project development objectives, MCRP Yobe provides transitional and livelihood support, peace building, social cohesion interventions, technical support, capacity building and rehabilitation of basic service delivery.
Other projects, according to him, include infrastructure for restoration of essential services, through reconstructing destroyed public buildings, roads and bridges, rehabilitation of health centres, schools and water facilities across 17 local government area in Yobe State.
Jidawa added that MCRP is also implementing various projects in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the objectives of the MCRP are to support the government of Nigeria towards rehabilitating and improving critical service delivery infrastructure, improve the livelihood opportunities of conflict and displacement-affected communities.
Others are to strengthen social cohesion in the North East Participating States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, and to provide immediate and effective response to crises or emergency.
COVID-19: Number of lonely people in UK doubles – Report
A report has revealed that the number of people in the United Kingdom (UK) experiencing loneliness during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has more than doubled since March 2020, despite an overall reduction in anxiety levels.
A survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation also revealed that fewer adults felt they were coping well with the stress of the ongoing pandemic compared to last year.
Out of 4,251 adults surveyed in February 2021, over a quarter (26 per cent) said they now felt lonely, up from 10 per cent last March.
Younger people were also more likely to feel alone, with 48 per cent of those surveyed in February reporting feeling alone.
The foundation said that feelings of loneliness had not returned to their pre-lockdown levels at any point over the past year even when most restrictions were lifted over the summer.
Around two-thirds (64 per cent) of those surveyed thought they were coping well with the pandemic, down from 73 per cent in last year.
Those experiencing suicidal thoughts had also risen year on year from 8 per cent to 13 per cent.
But overall anxiety about the pandemic has fallen among adults, from 62 per cent of those surveyed in March 2020 to 42 per cent in February 2021.
Dr Antonis Kousoulis, director for England and Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, said it was important for people to remember that the pandemic had affected individuals in different ways.”
“What we see (from the study) is a complex picture.
“On some measures, UK adults are feeling better than in March 2020 but on others, we are feeling no better or worse.
“Fewer of us are feeling anxious about the pandemic but more of us now feel lonely and ground down by the stress of the past year.
“It is absolutely important to remember that the experience of the past year has not been shared by everyone.
“We have all been in the same storm, but we have not all been in the same boat.
“However, for many of us, the next few months, and even years, will remain tough, vulnerable, and uncertain,” he said.
The survey said young adults, aged 18 to 24 years old, full-time students, and unemployed people were also significantly more likely to be feeling distressed, across a range of measures, compared with UK adults generally.
“One of our key aims when we launched the study a year ago, was to identify what was happening across the UK population and whether some groups were particularly seriously affected.
“This was designed to help us as a charity and policy-makers to target support at some of the most vulnerable people.
“We can now see clearly that among the most seriously affected people are young adults, people who are unemployed and full-time students.
“In these groups, painful experiences including loneliness, hopelessness, and feeling suicidal are much more common.
“This is especially troubling, at a time when unemployment is set to rise.
Policymakers must target support at these more vulnerable groups, to help prevent them reaching crisis point,” Kousoulis added.
UNICEF says 26.5 million Nigerian children lack access to water
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that no fewer than 26.5 million Nigerian Children do not have enough water to meet their daily needs.
In a statement to commemorate the 2021 World Water Day, UNICEF said globally, more than 1.42 billion people – including 450 million children – are living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability.
According to a new analysis released by the global organisation, one in five children worldwide lack water to meet their everyday needs.
The analysis is part of the Water Security for All Initiative, and it identifies areas where physical water scarcity risks overlap with poor water service levels.
The statement quotes Mr Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, as saying that communities living in these areas depend on surface water, unimproved sources of water, or water that can take more than 30 minutes to collect.
“The world’s water crisis is not coming – it is here, and children are its biggest victims.
“When wells dry up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water. When droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting.
“When floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses. And when water is not available in Nigerian communities, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases,” Hawkins said.
The UNICEF data show that children in more than 80 countries live in areas with high or extremely high water vulnerability with Eastern and Southern Africa with the highest proportion.
It is followed by West and Central Africa (31 per cent), South Asia (25 per cent), and the Middle East (23 per cent).
Hawkins noted that in 2020, the Nigerian Government and UNICEF released a WASH NORM survey which showed some progress, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and its partners to strengthen the sector’s planning and monitoring.
He noted that much more work to be done in the country was to ensure that all Nigerians have access to adequate and quality water and hygiene services.
“Sustainable and equitable access to safe drinking water remains a challenge in Nigeria, with over 86 per cent of Nigerians lacking access to a safely managed drinking water source.
“The problem is compounded by poor drinking water quality and lack of equity in access. Although about 70 per cent of Nigerians are reported to have access to a basic water services, more than half of these water sources are contaminated”.
“And although 73 per cent of the country’s population have access to a water source, only nine litres of water on average is available to a Nigerian daily.
“At the current rate, the country will miss the SDG targets on people’s access to water, unless there is a strong commitment and appropriate action taken by all stakeholders.
“We have to act now both to address the water crisis in Nigeria to prevent it from getting worse and if we want to meet the SDGs.
“We can only achieve water security for every Nigerian, including the Nigerian child through innovation, investment and collaboration, and by ensuring services are sustainable and well-managed, We must act for the sake of our children and our planet.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that March 22 annually is commemorated as World Water Day, to raise awareness on global water crisis.
The theme of World Water Day 2021 is ‘Valuing Water’.
PDP governors demand probe of assassination attempt on Ortom
APC seeks collaboration with security operatives
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has called on security agencies to investigate the Saturday’s alleged attempt on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue.
The forum made the call in a statement by its chairman and governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, on Sunday in Abuja.
Tambuwal urged the security agencies and other authorities of the state to swiftly and thoroughly investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We wish to warn that any attempt to harm any Nigerian will be viewed by the forum as an attempt on all. We believe strongly that any dispute or perceived dispute should be and must be resolved amicably without resort to violence,” Tambuwal said.
He condemned the attempt by certain retrogressive elements and centrifugal forces trying to consign Nigeria into a failed state, saying Nigeria is not a Banana Republic.
Tambuwal noted that security remained the primary responsibility of government, especially the federal government, adding that every Nigerian deserves equal protection under the law.
He said every citizen is entitled to freedom of speech and free exercise of all rights guaranteed in the constitution, subject only to law; adding that Nigeria is still a democracy and that nobody or group, however highly placed, should take the laws into their own hands.
“The PDP governors are solidly united and are behind Ortom and will do the utmost to defend the rights and prerogatives of the Benue people who elected him.
“We expect the security agencies and other authorities of state to investigate this matter swiftly and thoroughly and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Tambuwal said.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has stressed the need for all to collaborate with security operatives to end all forms of criminality in the country.
The party said this in a statement on Sunday by the national secretary of its Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe.
Akpanudoedehe said this while condemning Saturday’s attack on the convoy of Governor Samuel Ortom.
He thanked God for Ortom’s safety and praised his security details for repelling the attack.
He expressed confidence that the security services would do everything to unravel the criminals behind the attack and bring them to book.
Benue journalists condemn assassination attempt on Ortom
The Conference of Benue Journalists (CBJ) has condemned in strong terms Saturday’s alleged assassination attempt on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State by yet-unknown gunmen.
A statement by the vice president of the body, Mr Ewache Ajefu, said the incident and the recent killing of the brother of a former governor of the state was aimed at making the state ungovernable.
“We categorically warn that nothing must happen to Ortom and urge the federal government to step up security machinery to end all forms of criminality in the country,” he said.
Ajefu commended the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for swiftly deploying a team of specialized investigators to fish out the perpetrators.
He also called on Ortom never to be deterred by the attack but to remain focused and courageous in providing good leadership to the people of the state.