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Weekly Spotlight: 10 December 2023

1.      Commonwealth Representatives Advocate for Small Arms Limitations During United Nations Security Council Debate

On 15 December, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a day-long debate regarding the impacts of small arms, in which several Commonwealth representatives made valuable contributions. The United Kingdom’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations James Kariuki emphasised the importance of using coordinated regional approaches to combat the illegal small arms trade, citing the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap as a model example. This plea for greater focus on regional approaches was further echoed by Gabonese representative Michael Xavier Biang, Sierra Leonean representative Sulay-Manah Kpukumu, and Mozambique representative Pedro Commisario Afonso. Meanwhile, representatives from India, Malta, Nigeria, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Guyana explored the topic of small arms from several new perspectives, ranging from their effects on organised crime groups, to the role of women in preventing their proliferation.


2.      Nigerian Military Arrest Biafran Separatist Commander in Enugu State

Nigerian troops arrested a suspected commander of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)’s militant raid during an exercise conducted on 14 December 2023. Uchechukwu Akpa was arrested at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Mgbowo, Enugu State, following Exercise Golden Dawn III: a joint task force operation created with the intention of strengthening security in Nigeria’s south-eastern regions. Jonah Unuakhalu, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Army’s 82nd Division, confirmed that in addition to arresting Mr Akpa, authorities also seized a collection of AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition. Mr Unuakhalu also attributed the mission’s success to the “incredible cooperation” facilitated between federal and state security agencies.


3.      Rwandan and Mozambique Forces Host Joint Medical Outreach Programme in Cabo Delgado

Building upon their previous success conducting joint counterterrorism operations, Rwandan and Mozambique security forces hosted a medical outreach programme in the Cabo Delgado on 16 December 2023. During the programme’s first day, staff successfully treated over 250 patients at a field hospital established in Afungi, Palma District. The facility offers a range of medical services, including malaria treatment, an intensive care unit, and a specialist obstetrics and gynaecology team. This initiative constitutes part of a broader strategy to deliver basic healthcare to rural communities, many of whom lack regular access to such services.


4.      Militant Attack Kills Three Pakistani Police Officers in Dera Ismail Khan District

Pakistan has reported the death of three police officers following a militant attack in the Dera Ismail Khan district on 15 December 2023. Reportedly, an unidentified suspect detonated a suicide vest in the main entrance of a police office and residence block, before associates stormed the building to engage in a hours-long gun battle with authorities. The attack has been claimed by the relatively unknown Ansar-ul-Islam organisation, who warned of their intention to stage additional attacks in a social media statement. It remains unclear whether the group is associated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group, who regularly conduct violent assaults against Pakistani state security personnel.


5.      Fiji Announces New National Security Strategy Review

Pio Tikoduadua, Minister for Home Affairs, announced on 13 December that the Fijian government will conduct a comprehensive view of the nation’s security and defence strategy. Reportedly, the review will involve identifying and implementing legislative regulatory reforms in defence and security, and designing a formal security sector reform and governance (SSRG) programme under the Ministry of Home Affairs. In an official press statement, Mr Tikoduadua explained that the review’s key objectives are to “craft a national security strategy that not only outlines Fiji’s national interest and goals, but also integrates our core values and principles.”


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