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Weekly Round-Up

1. Venezuela publicly ratifies 1966 Geneva Agreement in order to pressure Guyana in ongoing border dispute.

On Wednesday the 17th of February the Venezuelan government made a display of publicly ratifying the 1966 Geneva Agreement between itself and Guyana which sought to establish a bilateral framework to solve the ongoing border dispute between the two countries. Venezuela claims that this agreement, which it interprets differently to the rest of the international community, means that Guyana cannot bring outside voices into the ongoing dispute. Seemingly, this is part of their ongoing campaign to undermine the jurisdiction of the World Court, which is currently arbitrating on the dispute. Hopes are high that despite Venezuela’s interference, the World Court will be able to reach a fair decision on the ownership of the Essequibo region and protect Guyana’s territorial integrity.

2. Gunmen kill and abduct children in Nigerian school raid.

One pupil has been killed and 27 others abducted during a nighttime raid on a boarding school in Kagara, Nigeria. Three members of staff were also kidnapped alongside twelve of their relatives. The assailants wore false or stolen military uniforms and stormed the school in great numbers. The motive for the attack is currently unknown, but criminal groups and the terrorist organisation Boko Haram have been known historically to use kidnap as a means of generating profit and spreading fear. Security forces are currently investigating and planning rescue operations.

3. Desert locust swarms in Northern Kenya are reaching critical levels.

A new wave of desert locusts is plaguing Northern Kenya, with the number of insects threatening to become unmanageable. Locust swarms have now appeared in 15 separate counties in the country and threaten the food security of millions of people. Kenya is having a tough time combatting the locusts at their source because of ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen. Authorities such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation are unable to access these regions to control locust populations, and strong winds are spreading them to Kenya.

4. Facebook news ban in Australia interfering with emergency services.

A new law is being proposed in Australia which would mean that large social media companies would have to pay news outlets for their content. In response to this, Facebook has moved to prevent its Australian users from viewing or sharing news on their platforms. Of course, this ban raises ethical questions, but the way in which it has been implemented thus far raises pressing security concerns. Emergency and critical government services, like state health departments, have been among those pages banned from sharing updates and information. This has come at a time when Australia is facing wildfires and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

5. Fiji launches national strategy to combat human trafficking.

Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Defence and National Security launched the country’s national strategy to combat human trafficking this week. The strategy stresses the importance of international collaboration in combatting what is a truly transnational crime and notes that Covid-19 has only intensified the threat it poses to the globe. International Organization for Migration Chief of Mission in Fiji, Solomon Kantha, noted that this was an “important milestone for Fiji in not only recognising the scourge of human trafficking but in developing and endorsing a strategy and action plan to effectively deal with this horrendous crime”.


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