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Weekly Round-Up

1. 16,000 People forced to flee their homes after volcanic eruption in St Vincent.

The La Soufrière volcano in norther St Vincent erupted on Friday 9th April spewing ash into the air and across the island, forcing over 16,000 people to leave their homes. A subsequent explosive event from the volcano took place on Sunday 11th April causing power outages and water supplies to be cut off. Similar such eruptions are now anticipated for the next few days.

The response to the eruption has seen widespread coordination and cooperation from Commonwealth neighbours, including a deployment of the Barbados defence forces coordinated by the Regional Security System (RSS), as well as a pan-Caribbean response from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). The expertise in both these organisations has led to a rapid and effective response in support of St Vincent as it grapples with significant disruption and threat to life.

2. Strategic coastal town of Palma retaken by Mozambique security forces.

The Mozambican military has reasserted full control of the coastal town of Palma, more than a week after it was assaulted by Islamic extremists. Dozens of civilians, including foreign nationals, were killed in the attack and it is believed that at least 11,000 people have been displaced, many of whom have begun to return to looted and destroyed homes. The town’s hospital, several banks and the state prosecutor’s office also suffered heavy damage in the fighting. It has been reported that a “significant” number of militants were killed during the government counter-offensive. Army spokesmen, Brigadier Chongo Vidigal, said that Palma was now “completely safe”.

3. India prepares for crackdown on Maoist extremists following the deaths of 22 security personnel last week.

Following a four-hour firefight which killed 22 Indian policeman last week, India is intensifying its operations against Maoist extremist groups in Chhattisgarh state, a mineral rich region in central India. It is expected that more resources and personnel will be supplied to the region’s security forces to tackle the resurgence of far-left terrorism, alongside a review of existing counter-insurgency strategy. India’s Home Affairs Minister, Amit Shah, said in a speech to security forces that “the government will leave no stone unturned to provide you with the best facilities” and promised to end the “Maoist menace”. There has been an increase in attacks by the far-left extremists, known as Naxalites, in recent times. Top security officials believe that the ongoing effects of the pandemic have allowed these groups to recruit more easily, resulting in a revitalisation of the group’s efforts.

4. Sri Lankan Minister of Public Security names ‘mastermind’ behind the 2019 Easter attacks.

Sri Lankan Minister of Public Security, Sarath Weerasekera, named radical cleric Naufer Moulavi as the mastermind behind the 2019 Easter attacks, which killed 270 people. Moulavi is now being held in detention alongside seventy-five other suspects, thirty-two of whom have been charged with murder and conspiracy to murder. Successfully identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the attack is a key step in Sri Lanka’s process of national healing.

5. UK Foreign Secretary to visit Brunei-Darussalam to “usher in ‘new era’ of Indo-Pacific security cooperation”.

UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is visiting Brunei Darussalam on the 8th of April to forge closer trade and security ties with the country and to discuss global issues such as the pandemic. The Foreign Secretary will meet with the His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei before meeting Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan, in the capital Bandar Seri Bagwan. Speaking ahead of the visit, he noted that “the Indo-Pacific tilt is vital for the UK to grasp economic opportunities and rise to the new challenges ahead. We’re deepening our trading relationships. The Carrier Strike Group’s deployment marks the start of a new era of defence cooperation. And the UK is investing in long term partnerships as a force for good in the region”.


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