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Weekly Round-Up

1. Antigua and Barbuda adopts Blue Economy Maritime plan in partnership with United Kingdom.

The twin island nation launched this week the first Blue Economy Maritime plan in the Commonwealth. The plan aims to allow Antigua and Barbuda to better harness its valuable maritime resources, and build resilience in the nation’s maritime economy. The plan was launched with the support of the United Kingdom which has established a support and funding mechanism for 17 Commonwealth small island developing states to establish such plans for their blue economies. The Caribbean nation’s Blue Economy Minister, Dean Jonas championed the plan’s development, staing: “This will attract investment while safeguarding the vast ocean spaces available to Antigua and Barbuda,”.

2. IS claim responsibility for the death of Boko Haram leader.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, died last month after detonating an explosive device whilst being pursued by rivals from break away militant group, Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). Reports have emerged this week that the ISWAP militants were acting under orders from IS’ Middle Eastern leadership. Such reports are based on a clandestine recording of a speech given by ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi. This news has lent credence to the popular view that IS is operating under a “franchise” model with leadership in the Middle East controlling subsidiary factions around the world. It also highlights the growing strength of IS in Africa, and, some commentators argue, the waning power of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

3. Mozambique militants abduct children as part of terror strategy.

New evidence has emerged this week that the insurgents operating in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region have been abducting children during raids. According to a report released by the charity Save the Children, at least 51 minors were kidnapped over the course of 2020, but this number is likely to be a large underestimate. The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has currently received as many as 2600 missing persons reports, the majority of which pertain to children. Most of the children that have been abducted are female.

4. Indian security officials worried as refugees from Myanmar cross the border.

Thousands fleeing violence in Myanmar have crossed the border into India’s Northeast, and security officials are fearing instability. Three Indian states, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland are currently harbouring approximately 16,000 people from Myanmar. This number is expected to grow quickly as the violence continues. It is believed that a number of the refugees are pro-democracy fighters and activists and as such may look to use Northeast India as a staging ground for resistance against the government in Myanmar.

5. Strengthening of Five Eyes relations catalysed by Chinese presence in Pacific Islands.

New Zealand’s recent realignment with the other Five Eyes powers on the threat presented by China is motivated by an increased Chinese presence in Pacific Island nations. Whilst discussing the matter Australian defence minister Peter Dutton noted that “The level of foreign interference into Fiji or Samoa or PNG is at a record level, as it is here” continuing on to suggest that this was the driving force behind New Zealand’s U-turn. Whilst previously distancing herself from the rest of the Five Eyes member states when it came to China, Jacinda Ardern has now said that New Zealand is “in lockstep” with the other members.


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