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Weekly Spotlight: 12 November 2023

1.      Belize Defence Force and British Army Conclude Joint Training Program

On 10 November, the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and British Army Training and Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) concluded a joint training program geared towards improving participants’ basic military skills. The rigorous exercise was conducted to prepare soldiers mentally and physically for an array of combat scenarios, and involved contingents from the Belize Police Department, Belize Coast Guard, and other national security organisations. Following the training program, Rear Admiral Elton Bennet, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, commented that British and Belizean security forces were “joined at the hip” at an operational level, elaborating that the drills contributed towards broader regional interoperability within the Caribbean.


2.      President Tinubu Signs USD $2.6 Billion National Security Act

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu signed a USD $2.6 billion Supplementary Appropriation Act on 08 November, which will reportedly “strengthen Nigeria’s security architecture and address Nigeria’s critical infrastructure deficit, among other considerations.” Of this USD $2.6 billion, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, clarified that approximately 30% will be directed towards Nigeria’s defence and security institutions. Whilst it remains unclear where precisely Nigeria’s security agencies intend to spend the USD $780 million set aside for their use, such a significant injection of federal funding could be used to provide higher quality training, more technologically advanced equipment, or increased numbers of staff within the sector.


3.      Tanzania and Uganda Sign Bilateral Agreement for Joint Construction of Natural Gas Pipeline

Representatives from Tanzania and Uganda signed a bilateral agreement on 09 November regarding the proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the two countries. The agreement, based on an August 2018 Memorandum of Understanding, was signed between Tanzanian Deputy Prime Minister Doto Biteko and Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Ruth Nankabirwa during a ceremony in the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam.  The proposed pipeline will transport natural gas from Tanzania’s Lindi and Mtwara regions towards central Uganda, improving employment opportunities and energy security within both nations. Furthermore, Kenya and Botswana have both shown interest in the project, demonstrating its potential for improving regional energy security across East Africa.


4.      USD $67,800 of Smuggled Gold Seized Along India-Bangladesh Border

In West Bengal’s Nadia district, Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel seized eight gold biscuits worth USD $67,800 along the Bangladeshi border on 10 November. Reportedly, a BSF officer spotted a man throw an unidentified packet over the border fence from the Bangladeshi side before running away. Once the officer informed a BSF patrol team of the suspicious activity, a second man caught retrieving the packet on the Indian side was promptly arrested on site for illegal smuggling.  After initial questioning by BSF authorities, the suspect was transferred to the Chapra customs office for further prosecution.


5.      Australia Pledges to Provide Residency to Tuvalu Climate Refugees

In a world-first, the Australian government has formally agreed to provide refuge to citizens from Tuvalu displaced by the catastrophic effects of climate change. The agreement, known as the Falepili Union, will provide visas permitting approximately 280 Tuvaluan citizens per year to work, study, and live in Australia.  Additionally, Canberra has pledged to invest USD $10.7 million towards Tuvaluan climate initiatives such as land reclamation projects, which could increase the islands’ physical landmass by up to 6%. Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Kausea Natano hailed the Falepili Union as a “beacon of hope”, elaborating that the agreement was “not just a milestone, but a giant leap forward in our joint mission to ensure regional stability, security, and prosperity.” In response, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that the pledge would be regarded as a “significant day in which Australia acknowledged that we are part of the Pacific family.”    


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