Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The European Union (EU) has signed one million euros (approximately N4.4 billion) for projects in support of persons with albinism, water and sanitation management in the Niger Delta region.
This was even as it renewed its commitment to promoting and protecting human rights in Nigeria, especially the rights of persons with albinism.
The EU also restated its commitment towards mitigating the conflict in the Niger-Delta region by addressing the main causes of unrest and violence which it said, include bad governance, youth unemployment, and poor delivery of basic services with the launch of five new projects.
The EU, in a statement made available to Daily Sun, in Abuja, said the projects would be funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) programme, while the other four will be funded under Component Three of the Niger-Delta Support Programme (NDSP).
The EU added that with a total funding amount of € 0.956 million, the projects will be implemented over a five-year period.
“The overall objective of the EIDHR programme is to help civil society become an effective force for political reform and defence of human rights.
“The programme has been running in Nigeria for almost twenty years and has supported local and international civil society organisations with more than €20 million to implement projects across a wide gamut of human rights issues, including the death penalty, press freedom, torture and ill-treatment, women’s rights, children’s rights, youth leadership, peace building, elections and voter education, and human trafficking.
“Component Three of the NDSP aims to increase access to safe, adequate, and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services delivery to under-served populations in five EU supported Niger-Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
“Implementing entities include state ministries responsible for water in all the project State, UNICEF, Messrs SAFEGE SRL, and four local civil society organisations,” the EU said.
Speaking during the EU Grants Contracts Signature Ceremony & Projects Launch, on Wednesday, in Abuja, the Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African (ECOWAS), Mr Ketil Karlsen, said the projects were amongst the EU activities in the country which seek to promote and protect human rights in Nigeria and mitigate the conflict in Niger Delta region by addressing the cause of unrest and violence.
Karlsen said: “The EU is signing another six projects with civil society organisations, to work together with the EU to provide services in the Niger Delta in water management and to increase access for the locals.
“Another one is launching a support programme for the Albino Foundation which is a wonderful project that we are really following up as a resolution from the EU parliament.
“This stressed the importance of EU working with the people with Albinism in Africa to improve their rights and to deepen their federal opportunity also,” Karlsen said.
The EU envoy further said the projects consist of overall funding of 956,000 euros which will be implemented over a period of five years.
Karlsen also said the overall objective of the EIDHR was to help civil society become an effective force for political reform and defence of human right.
“So, this is another example of close collaboration of EU with civil society organisations and authority in Nigeria because we know that the chain is as strong as the weakest link.
“We always advocate for civil society, the international community and the authority to approach some of the challenges that we have seen in Nigeria and some other places,” Karlsen further said
President of the Albino Foundation, Mr Jake Epelle, commended the EU for the initiative, saying that the project was to provide access to social services for persons with Albinism in Nigeria.
Epelle further said that the project was also to provide legal reform to improve the situation of people living Albinism.