1. Venezuela releases illegally detained Guyanese crew and vessels
Venezuela has released the Guyanese fishing vessels and crews that were illegally detained nearly two weeks ago by the Venezuelan Navy whilst sailing in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Guyana’s Foreign Ministry “confirmed that they have been released and will return to Guyana”, scheduled to arrive on the 3rd of February. The capture of these fisherman was the latest action in an ongoing border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. There was a large amount of international pressure on Venezuela to release the detainees, with many organisations and states condemning this predatory action.
2. Al-Shabaab Terrorist Attack targets law enforcement in northern Kenya
An improvised explosive device has killed a police officer and wounded three others when their vehicle drove over the makeshift bomb in northern Kenya, near the country's border with Somalia. Whilst there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, it is believed to be the latest in a string of attacks carried out against Kenyan security forces by Al-Shabaab militants, who travel over the porous border. Militants have recently destroyed over a dozen telecommunication masts in northern Mandera province. However, security forces are managing the threat, having killed two suspected al-Shabaab terrorists, arrested three others, and recovered a weapons cache in the last week.
3. Mozambique facing humanitarian disaster in the wake of cyclone Eloise
Mozambique is reeling from the fallout of Cyclone Eloise, which recently hit the central province of Sofala. Flood waters have destroyed 142 hectares of land and crops alongside 16000 houses. Over 260,000 people have been displaced and forced to shelter in churches, mosques and schools with little access to water and poor sanitation. This natural disaster has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the country’s ongoing insurgency, which had already seen perhaps as many as half a million people internally displaced.
4. Tribal violence in Papua New Guinea kills 19 and displaces over 1000
An outbreak of tribal violence in Hela Province, Papua New Guinea, has killed nineteen people and displaced over one thousand. A dispute arose over land use between rival factions and fighting has been ongoing for two weeks, with combatants using firearms as well as melee weapons. Fighting appears to have subsided after local politicians facilitated mediation between the warring parties, according to the United Nations. Gianluca Rampolla, Resident UN Coordinator for PNG noted, “the Governor has taken the lead in facilitating talks between the warring factions, and for the past 48 hours there has not been fighting… but there has not been a peace agreement signed between the clans so the situation remains unpredictable”.
5. Vanuatu detains Russian and Chinese vessels
Vanuatu has detained two Chinese fishing vessels and a Russian yacht on the grounds that they were operating in its territorial waters illegally. The Chinese boats were apprehended near Hiu Island in Vanuatu’s northern waters and the Russian vessel near Luganville. The arrests come as China is facing increasing criticism for allowing its fishing vessels to operate in other countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones contributing to unregulated, unsustainable, and illegal fishing.