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Joint UN-INTERPOL operation disrupts firearms supply to terrorist networks in West Africa, Sahel

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Joint UN-INTERPOL operation disrupts firearms supply to terrorist networks in West Africa, Sahel

An international operation, coordinated jointly by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the international police organization (INTERPOL), has disrupted trafficking networks that supply terrorist groups across West Africa and the Sahel, the UN agency reported on Monday from Abidjan.

A UN statement said Operation KAFO II targeted smuggling hotspots in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger over a seven-day period, resulting in the arrest of a number of suspected terrorists and the seizure of illicit firearms, ammunition and explosives.

“The fight against illicit firearms trafficking requires strong international and inter-agency cooperation to identify the source of these arms and bring perpetrators to justice,” said UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly.

“After the operational phase of KAFO II, it is important that UNODC and INTERPOL continue working together and support ongoing investigations and open cases,” she added.

More than 260 officers from police, customs and other national services in the four countries participated in the joint operation, which was conducted from 30 November to 6 December and focused on airports, seaports and land borders.

The statement said they checked more than 12,000 individuals, vehicles, containers and goods against international criminal databases, and carried out physical searches, including to determine if suspects were using stolen travel documents or were known to police in any of INTERPOL’s 194 member countries.

Besides arresting several suspected terrorists, officers intercepted 50 firearms, more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, and over 40,000 sticks of dynamite as well as 28 detonator cords.

They also netted nearly 1,500 kilos of cannabis and the plant-based stimulant drug khat; some 60,000 litres of contraband fuel, and more than 2,000 boxes of contraband medical drugs.

“Trafficking in firearms is a lucrative business which, in turn, fuels and funds other types of serious crimes,” said INTERPOL Secretary General, Jürgen Stock.

“Operation KAFO II shows the need to connect the dots between crime cases involving firearms and terrorists across different countries.”

The joint operation also focused on disrupting the flow of illicit goods that finance criminal and terrorist activities as firearms trafficking is often associated with other forms of contraband, the partners said.

The seizure of large quantities of contraband fuel in Niger and Mali represented a new trend, they added, as it is believed the fuel came from Nigeria and was being trafficked to both finance and supply the terrorist group Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

Additionally, the dynamite and detonator cords were destined for use in illegal gold mining: a new source of financing but also a potential recruiting ground for armed groups operating in the Sahel.

The statement said meanwhile, the scores of contraband hand sanitizer gel containers, gloves and drugs seized during the operation indicated the market for these items was flourishing, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read:   Journalists seek end to African women enslavement in the Middle East

It said ahead of the operation, partners provided the officers with skills training, including how to use INTERPOL’s Illicit Arms Record and tracing Management System (iARMS).

As a result, several hundred firearms recovered in the region over the past year were identified and traced back to the countries where they were manufactured, or last legally imported, to track their history of ownership and movement.

This intelligence helped participating countries to better target firearms trafficking suspects, networks and hotspots.

UNODC said investigations are now underway in efforts to build a strong case for prosecution.

 

 

 

PANA

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Sri Lankan President Thanks Seychelles Defence Forces For Rescuing Sri Lankan Vessel From Somali Pirates

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President Ramkalawan says Seychellois military boarded boat with utmost courage to take complete control

 The Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) Special Forces and Seychelles Coast Guards on board Coast Guards vessel Topaz led a successful operation to regain control of a Sri Lankan vessel hijacked by armed Somali pirates.

Seychellois special military forces boarded the boat with utmost courage to take complete control of the vessel and rescue our Sri Lankan brothers.

The Commander in Chief of the Seychelles, President Wavel Ramkalawan has spoken to the Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette to congratulate the Special Forces and Coast Guards team on a well-executed and successful mission.

“This is the spirit of the Seychelles Defence Forces. Professionalism, courage, and bravery are the tenets of the new spirit in the force. Though small, we will make our contribution to attaining maritime security, peace, and determination in the fight against terrorism to ensure that the world, especially in our part of the Indian Ocean remains a safe and peaceful region. Once again, I reiterate the  pride and confidence of the Seychellois nation in the Seychelles Defence Forces.”

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GoG: Promoting Trans-boundary Management For Sustainable Socio-Economic Development

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…Mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of the Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME)

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 23, 2024/ — From January 21st to 27th, 2024, AU-IBAR is on a mission in the republics of Benin and Togo. The mission is dedicated to supporting the implementation of a Transboundary Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiative between the two nations. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), under the project “Conservation of Aquatic Biodiversity within the Framework of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy,” this initiative holds the promise of fostering socio-economic development through the judicious use of marine resources.

Collaborative Efforts: AU-IBAR is collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) body, the Abidjan Convention, and the World Bank-funded West African Coastal Area Management (WACA) Project. The SIDA-funded project, implemented by AU-IBAR, involves an assessment to map the extent of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) usage in Africa as a management tool for the conservation of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems in the west, central, and northern regions of Africa.

Mission Objectives: This mission builds upon previous efforts by AU-IBAR in the beneficiary countries (Benin and Togo) for the national validation of the report on the State of Transboundary Marine Environment (SoME). The current objective is to secure joint expert validation of the SoME report and obtain high-level political endorsement for the provisions of the jointly validated report, demonstrating the commitment of both countries to the cause. Participants in the joint validation workshop include WACA project-nominated committee members from Benin and Togo, representatives from the Abidjan Convention, and government authorities from both nations, alongside relevant AU-IBAR staff.

Political Commitment: The opening statements during the joint meeting saw representatives from the Governments of Benin and Togo, the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention, and the representative of the Director of AU-IBAR express unwavering commitment to the transboundary marine management process. Both the Director of AU-IBAR and the Executive Secretary of the Abidjan Convention reiterated their support for the Governments of Benin and Togo in realizing their shared vision for the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in the designated shared maritime boundary.

Key Outcomes: The pinnacle achievement of the joint meeting is the validation of the study report on the state of the marine environment between Benin and Togo. This validation marks a significant milestone towards establishing the transboundary MSP between the two countries. AU-IBAR Director, DR Huyam Salih, emphasized that this accomplishment is a crucial step forward in enhancing aquatic biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in the Gulf of Guinea.

Conclusion: The joint expert consultation workshop serves as a testament to the collaborative efforts aimed at promoting transboundary management of shared marine aquatic ecosystems in the Gulf of Guinea. The validated report and political commitment from Benin and Togo are integral to realizing the socio-economic development potential inherent in the sustainable use of marine resources. As AU-IBAR continues its mission, the hope is that this initiative will serve as a model for other regions seeking to harmonize efforts for the conservation and management of their shared marine ecosystems.
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U.S.-British Strikes In Yemen Left 5 Dead, Say Houthi Rebels

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The U.S. and British military strikes in Yemen have left five Houthi fighters dead and six others injured, the Iran-aligned rebels said on Friday, vowing retaliation.

“The American and British enemy bears full responsibility for its criminal aggression,’’ the Houthi military spokesman Yehya Saree said in a statement.

Saree said the massive attack had targeted several Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen including the capital Sana’a.

“It will not pass unanswered and without punishment.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces will not hesitate to target sources of threat and all hostile targets on the ground and in the sea,’’ he said. 

  • dpa
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