1. Venezuela illegally detains two Guyanese fishing vessels
As border tensions between Guyana and Venezuela continue to escalate, Venezuela has unlawfully detained two Guyanese fishing vessels. A ship belonging to the Venezuelan Navy accosted the Guyanese boats whilst they were fishing within their rights in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Guyana’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “the Venezuelan vessel was illegally manoeuvring within Guyana’s EEZ and Contiguous Zone when it intercepted, boarded and commandeered the Guyanese fishing vessels,” and continued to condemn “in the strongest possible terms this wanton act of aggression by the Venezuelan armed forces against Guyana and Guyanese citizens.”
The increasingly aggressive Venezuelan behaviour over its shared border with Guyana is the subject of our forthcoming situational insight report. In it we explore in greater depth the origins of the spat, and how the Commonwealth community can help support Guyana in the face of Venezuelan opportunism.
2. Violence has exploded near the Kenyan-Somali border
Heavy fighting commenced in the border town of Bulo Hawo between Somalian troops loyal to central government and forces from Jubbaland, who’s exact motivations are unknown. The violence has arisen in the wake of Somalia’s recent election which was marred by allegations of corruption. The Somalian government alleges that the rebels are funded by Kenya, following unsubstantiated allegations that Kenya influenced Somalia’s disputed election. Kenya’s Minister for International Security noted that "We are not involved in it and none of our forces have crossed the border to go to Somalia.” Despite this, the violence still poses a major security threat to Kenya, taking place almost directly on its border and presenting the risk of a spill-over of violence. Moreover, allegations of Kenyan meddling in Somalian affairs continues to fuel violent extremism in the region that often targets regional security forces, to which Kenya contributes significantly.
3. India announces “minor face off” with Chinese forces along the Sikkim border
The Indian Army announced that Indian and Chinese defence forces engaged in a “minor face off” in the Sikkim border area of the Eastern Himalayas. Details on the encounter remain scarce, with the Indian Army stating “there was a minor face-off at Nakula area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocol”. Both sides have once again reaffirmed their desire to resolve the ongoing build up of military power on the border peacefully.
4. One of the worlds largest drugs traffickers has been detained in an operation led by Australia
Tse Chi Lop, alleged to control one of the worlds largest drug rings, has been arrested in Amsterdam after an international law enforcement operation led by Australia. Lop, a Canadian national born in China, is believed to control “The Company” which dominates the drug trafficking market in the Asia and the Pacific. Authorities in Australia believe this group to be responsible for 70% of all illegal drugs entering the country. Australian police had been tracking Lop for a decade before he was arrested on Friday the 22nd. The operation to arrest him involved around twenty law enforcement agencies from around the world, with the Australian Federal Police taking the lead.
5. Australia provides assistance to Fiji in improving disaster resilience in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasa
A Royal Australian Airforce C-17 has arrived at Nadi international airport in Fiji carrying tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies. Fiji is beginning to recover from the affects of Cyclone Yasa, which saw much of the country heavily flooded and without power. The supplies sent from Australia will replenish Fiji’s disaster relief provisions to replace those expended in tackling the fallout from Yasa, improving their resilience to future disasters. Critically, the plane also brought materials to aid Fijian electricity companies in returning power to Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island. The Australian Government has provided $4.5 million in humanitarian relief to support Fijian people affected by the cyclone.