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Weekly Spotlight: 17 March 2024

1.      Belize Defence Force and Coast Guard Host Women, Peace, and Security Symposium

On 20 March 2024, the Belize Defence Force (BDF) and Belize Coast Guard (BCG) launched the annual Women, Peace, and Security symposium in Ladyville’s Price Barracks. The symposium, held under the theme of “Inspire Inclusion”, aims to highlight the vital roles played by women in promoting peace and security. The event was attended by several senior officials including Governor General Froyla Tzalam, Human Development Coordinator for the Women’s Department Cynthia Williams, and Lieutenant Commander Alma Pinelo, the BCG’s first female Acting Vice Commandant. Lieutenant Commander Pinelo praised the progress of women’s roles in the BCG, highlighting the fact that servicewomen now take part in active patrols, and appealed to men within Belize’s armed forces to actively champion gender equality and women’s rights.


2.      Kaduna State Students Freed Following Security Operation

During the early morning hours (local time) of 24 March, Nigerian military forces successfully rescued 137 hostages following their abduction from a school in Kuriga, Kaduna State on 07 March. Unidentified militants held the victims hostage in a nearby forest for a ransom of USD $690,000, which was demanded by the end of March 2024. However, Major General Edward Buba confirmed that seventy-six girls and sixty-one boys were rescued from the neighbouring Zamfara State without any ransom payments being made. Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani hailed the news as marking “a day of joy”, while President Bola Tinubu stated that the rescue highlighted the “importance of collaboration between government and state authorities, especially on matters of security.”


3.      Kenyan Government Purchases Springbuck Armoured Personnel Carriers to Bolster National Security

On 20 March 2024, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki formally commissioned a recently acquired fleet of DCD Protected Mobility Springbuck armoured personnel carriers. The vehicles were purchased as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu, a Kenyan government initiative which aims to fortify the country’s defence capabilities against the growing threats of terrorism, banditry, and organised crime. The commissioning ceremony was attended by several senior defence officials including Principal Secretary Dr Raymond Omollo and Inspector General of the National Police Service Japhet Koome, highlighting the initiative’s significance among Kenya’s security establishment. The armoured personnel carriers will likely be used as part of the government’s Police Equipment Modernisation (PEP) programme, and directed primarily towards those stationed in Forward Operating Bases (FOBs).


4.      Eight Militants Eliminated Following Gwadar Port Attack

Pakistani military personnel successfully eliminated eight separatist militants during a 20 March security operation conducted in the port city of Gwadar. According to intelligence officials, militants from the Majeed Brigade, the armed wing of the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), initially entered the Gwadar Port Authority Complex at approximately 1600hrs (local time). However, a swift response from local security forces led to the elimination of eight BLA militants following a two-hour-long battle, in which two state security officers also sustained injuries. Sarfraz Bugti, Chief Minister of Balochistan, subsequently warned that “whosoever chooses to use violence will see no mercy from the state,” before praising law enforcement officers involved in the security operation for “fighting bravely for Pakistan.”


5.      Tonga Formalises Support for Joint Water Security Initiative

On 21 March 2024, representatives from the Tongan government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji formalised support for a new water security initiative by signing a Letter of Agreement (LoA). The project, which also receives support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aims to significantly increase the number of water tanks throughout Tonga to increase the nation’s overall water resilience. Pisila Matafahi ‘Otunuku, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Tonga’s Ministry of Finance, praised the joint initiative as serving as a “poignant reminder of the essential role that partnerships and the power of collaboration play in working towards achieving water security and resilience”.


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