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Weekly Spotlight: 21 January 2024

1.      Guyana to Purchase Four Helicopters Under New National Security Budget

As part of the country’s USD $1.146 trillion 2024 national budget, the Guyanese Defence Force (GDF) received USD $42.2 billion to develop the technical capabilities and assets of Guyana’s local security sector.  Specifically, on 18 January 2024, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo confirmed that the updated budget would be used to purchase four new Bell helicopters for joint use by the GDF and Guyana Police Force. Meanwhile, in addition to building its air fleet, the Guyanese Government has reportedly established a line of credit with India to acquire marine assets that will be used to enhance the policing of Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).


2.      Five Kidnap Victims Recovered by State Security Services in Northern Nigeria

During the evening of 20 January, a joint task force of police and army officers successfully rescued five sisters who were kidnapped from an Abuja suburb earlier in the month. Nigerian police said the girls had been reunited with their family following the operation, which took place near the Kajuru forest in Kaduna State at around 2330hrs (local time). Reportedly, the victims were initially taken hostage from their family home in Bwari on 02 January, before the perpetrators killed a sixth sister in an attempt to extort a ransom payment from the victims’ father. Defence Minister Mohammed Badaru Abubakar commented that “the security agencies are working very hard to push them (kidnapping gangs) out, block their movements, and finish them off once and for all."


3.      Donkey Cart Attack Kills Police Officer in Eastern Kenya

Reports indicate that on 18 January 2024, a donkey cart carrying a suspected improvised bomb exploded at a checkpoint on the Kenya-Somalia border, killing one Kenyan policer and critically wounding four others. A Kenyan police report explained that the cart, which was pulled by two donkeys and ridden by one man, passed the Somali checkpoint of Bula Hawa before entering Kenyan territory, where it was stopped by officers to check the load. The rider then ran back into Somalia moments before the cart exploded, causing a huge fire at the border post in the northern county of Mandera. Whilst unconfirmed, authorities believe that the attack was perpetrated by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist group who have stage multiple terrorist attacks within Somalia and eastern Kenya.


4.      India and Bangladesh Pursue Closer Cybersecurity Cooperation

During a speech given on 18 January, State Minister for Posts, Telecoms, and ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak stated that Bangladesh and India would be pursuing a closer partnership regarding cybersecurity. After a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Pranay Verma, Mr Palak explained that this partnership will help Bangladesh achieve its goals of developing a USD $5 billion export market in the IT sector, creating 1 million IT jobs for young professionals in the next five years, and attracting foreign direct investment in the country’s technology sector. Mr Palak also reported that twelve high-tech parks will be constructed using an Indian line of credit, which are due to commence operations by 2025. Reportedly, a final cybersecurity agreement is expected to be signed between the two countries in the next three to six months. 


5.      Fijian Agriculture Minister Calls for Collaborative Approach to Food Security During Pacific Food Week Workshop

On 17 January 2024, Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture Tomasi Tunabuna called for increased international collaboration in the fight against food waste during the annual Pacific Food Week workshop. The workshop was organised by the Live and Learn Fiji Environmental Education—Resilient Food Systems and the Climate Resilient Islands Program, and was attended by participants from Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji. Specifically, the workshop’s aim was to enable participants to improve their technical understanding of key food systems concepts which underpin various approaches to food security and development. In his remarks, Mr Tunabuna reflected that “the ever-increasing frequency and strength of natural disasters, the impacts of climate change, and inefficient agricultural production are among many other challenges that have exacerbated the struggles faced by vulnerable communities in accessing basic nutrition.”


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