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BSF, BGB Discuss Measures to Curb Trans-Border Crime Including Unwanted Loss of Life, Smuggling of Cattle

The aim of this conference was to improve mutual co-operation and understanding between both the border guarding forces of India

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The BSF delegation was led by Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, Inspector General, South Bengal Frontier, while Md Jalal Ghani Khan, Additional Director General, Region Commander, South West Region, Jashore, was the head of the Bangladesh team. Pixabay

Measures to curb trans-border crime including unwanted loss of life, smuggling of cattle, drugs and narcotics were among major issues discussed at a four-day meeting between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) that ended here on Sunday.

Smuggling of arms and ammunition and gold were also deliberated upon during the Border Co-ordination Conference between Inspectors’ General of BSF and Region Commanders’ of the BGB, officials told the media.

The BSF delegation was led by Yogesh Bahadur Khurania, Inspector General, South Bengal Frontier, while Md Jalal Ghani Khan, Additional Director General, Region Commander, South West Region, Jashore, was the head of the Bangladesh team.

“The aim of this conference was to improve mutual co-operation and understanding between both the border guarding forces of India and Bangladesh for better border management and to resolve various issues related to border in the mutual interests of both the countries,” said Khurania.

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Smuggling of arms and ammunition and gold were also deliberated upon during the Border Co-ordination Conference between Inspectors’ General of BSF and Region Commanders’ of the BGB, officials told the media. Pixabay

“During the conference, various issues for effective border management were discussed which included measures to curb trans-border crime including unwanted loss of life, smuggling of cattle, drugs and narcotics, contraband items,” he added.

The delegations also discussed about effective measures to check illegal movement across the International Boundary, smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), breach of fence and safety and security of border population of both the countries.

During the meeting, various pending issues related to infrastructure and developmental works in border areas were also discussed, with both sides appreciating various activities being conducted under the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP).

The CBMPt includes Simultaneous Coordinated Patrols (SCP), sharing of intelligence, identification of vulnerable areas and increased frequency of meetings at all levels.

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Both sides appreciated that trans-border crime has declined following efforts made by the border guarding forces, and agreed to pursue the construction of developmental projects in the respective border areas. (IANS)

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Coronavirus Spread Leads to Shortage of Supplies and Cross-Border Chaos in Europe

In Europe, Coronavirus Spread Creates Border Chaos, Choked Supply Lines

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Word of the border closings due to coronavirus fanned growing fears in Europe, prompting widespread hoarding. Pixabay

Strict new controls to slow the spread of the coronavirus froze traffic at global borders Tuesday, idling trucks in columns more than 30 miles long at some European crossings, while masked security officers turned back travelers at others.

The moves by officials bent on protecting their citizens in Europe raised new questions about how to maintain supplies of food, medical equipment and other goods in coming weeks that will be critical to nations in lockdown.

Word of the border closings fanned growing fears in Europe, prompting widespread hoarding.

“There is enough for everybody,” German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said, castigating people for spreading panic by posting fake reports that supermarkets would be closing. “I’m certain we will weather this society-wide situation well, so long as we behave as a society.”

The moves come as caseloads in Europe, specially, Spain and Italy — where more than 2,500 deaths now account for a third of world’s total — continued to spiral. Worldwide, the number of cases topped 190,000.

In the U.S., retailers and food companies scrambled to ramp up production after two weeks of panic-purchasing by shoppers. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, and supermarket chains like Wegman’s, cut store hours to give workers time to restock shelves.

To help speed shipments, U.S. officials suspended rules Tuesday capping the road time of truckers who are hauling food or emergency medical supplies.

The shortages in Europe come despite the fact that much of the food Americans consume is produced domestically and does not need to be moved across borders. But that has done little to quell fears that have emptied stores of items ranging from garlic to paper towels.

“I don’t think anyone has seen anything like this … certainly not in this country,” said Per Hong, an executive at the management consulting firm, Kearney.

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Police officers block the road at the Austrian border in Hegyeshalom, northwestern Hungary, Europe. VOA

In Britain, where officials had resisted stringent measures to curb the virus, new research on the virus prompted a dramatic escalation Tuesday. A study by Imperial College London estimated that the virus could kill 250,000 people in the United Kingdom and more than 1 million in the U.S., unless officials took action to stop its spread.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to eliminate unnecessary contact with others, work from home where possible and avoid bars, restaurants, theaters and other venues. Schools remained opened for the time being. Some scientists, though, said the government should have taken action sooner.

The European Union also issued guidelines aimed at facilitating the flow of critical goods like food and medicine, while helping individual nations restrict non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

But on Tuesday it was chaos on many borders, with traffic backed up for dozens of kilometers (miles).

“We are all desperate, cold and sleepless here for a third day,” said Janina Stukiene, who was stuck in Lithuania on the border with Poland with her husband and son. “We just want to go home.”

The line of cars and trucks in Lithuania was some 60 kilometers (37 miles) long after Poland closed its border, while similar traffic jams could be seen on the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic.

Lithuania was sending military airplanes and special trains to Germany to help hundreds of its citizens stranded at the crossing points with Poland.

To try to help citizens from Estonia and Lithuania get home following closure of the Polish border, German police organized a convoy of vehicles to a ferry port on one of its Baltic Sea islands.

Estonia, meantime, commissioned a ferry large enough for 2,500 passengers to fetch Estonians and Latvians unable to transit Poland to return home from Germany.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU officials, called for “intensifying European coordination and quickly taking effective and concerted action.” He condemned unilateral border control measures by some member states within the EU, according to his office.

Like Germany, France insists the free flow of goods must be guaranteed and cross-border commuting for work should be allowed.

Germany launched a 50 million euro ($56 million) effort to bring home thousands stranded in popular winter vacation spots across the globe, including up to 5,000 in Morocco alone.

“Even if we will do everything humanly possible, we cannot in every case provide a solution within 24 hours,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned.

More than 100,000 Germans are thought to be in various places around the world looking to get home, including some 30,000 in Egypt, primarily on holiday.

Airlines have slashed flights due to a plunge in demand but also because many countries have been barring foreign arrivals.

Turkey planned to evacuate 3,614 citizens stranded in nine European countries after flights were suspended, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Regional authorities in Spain’s Balearic Islands effectively locked down the Mediterranean archipelago by restricting all but a handful of daily flights and incoming boats for returning island residents.

Spain, now the fourth-most infected country, saw the number of people with the virus rise by more than 2,000 in one day to 11,178 and virus-related deaths jump by almost 200 to 491. Only China, Italy and Iran had more infections.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but severe illness is more likely in the elderly and people with existing health problems. COVID-19 has killed over 7,500 people so far, while more than 80,000 have recovered.

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Trucks are stuck in traffic jams on the A12 autobahn in the direction of Poland near near Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, Europe. VOA

In Italy, reported infections jumped to 27,980. With 2,503 deaths, Italy now accounts for nearly a third of the global death toll.

Iran state TV warned that “millions” could die in the Islamic Republic alone if the public keeps traveling and ignores health guidance. World Health Organization officials have said the number of cases there — nearly 15,000 with 853 deaths — have been sharply under-reported.

Some bright spots emerged. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus was first detected late last year and which has been under lockdown for weeks, reported just one new case Tuesday.

Shares reversed early losses in Asia and Europe on Tuesday and stocks pushed higher on Wall Street, a day after their worst plunge in more than three decades as more aid appeared on the way from Washington. The 4.3% rise for the S&P 500 followed Monday’s nearly 13% plummet.

Still, markets around the world,specially Europe, remained highly volatile as traders see a recession growing more likely.

A senior South Korean health official, Kwon Jun-wook, urged people to take the virus seriously.

“In a similar wayto how the Sept. 11 attacks completely changed people’s perception about security, quarantine authorities like us believe the daily lives of all the people around the world will be changed because of COVID-19,” Kwon said.

Malaysia banned foreign travel and was allowing only essential services to stay open.

The eastern Caribbean island of Barbados confirmed its first two cases, saying both were linked to people who had recently traveled there from the U.S.

Jack Ma, founder of the Chinese tech giant Alibaba, said his foundation would donate more than 1 million testing kits — 20,000 testing kits to each of Africa’s 54 countries —as the coronavirus starts to spread on the extremely vulnerable continent.

Thirty African countries have confirmed cases but about a dozen lack testing capability.

“We cannot … assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis,” Ma said.

Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced a $40 million initiative to help vulnerable countries, notably in Africa and Europe.

As the pandemic expanded in Europe, the Mideast and the Americas, China and South Korea were trying to hold their hard-fought gains. China was quarantining new arrivals and South Korea was to increase screenings of all overseas arrivals.

Infections have continued to slow in South Korea’s worst-hit city of Daegu. But there’s concern over a steady rise of infections around Seoul, where new clusters have emerged.

In the U.S., officials urged older Americans and those with chronic health conditions to stay home, and recommended all group gatherings be capped at 10 people. School closings in 56 countries kept more than 516 million students home, the U.N. said.

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The new research published in Britain, Europe suggest that countries have little choice but to act. The analysis, drawing on the latest data from China and Italy, found that “mitigation” — slowing but not stopping the spread of the virus while protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly — would still lead to a huge number of cases that would overwhelm the health care system.

Researchers in Europe estimated as many as half of all cases were not identified and that 30% of hospitalized patients would require critical care. They also suggested almost 81% of the population in the U.S. and U.K. might be infected during the pandemic and said the drastic social restrictions might need to be in place for many months. (VOA)

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Kenya, Uganda Sign Pact To End Cross-Border Conflicts Between Turkana, Pokot and Karamoja

The programme Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development seeks to end hostilities among the three neighbouring communities and enhance development in the region

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President Museveni, Uganda. Wikimedia Commons

BY GEOFFREY ISAYA

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni have witnessed the signing of an agreement aimed at promoting sustainable peace and development among Turkana, Pokot and Karamojong communities.

The programme dubbed Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development seeks to end hostilities among the three neighbouring communities and enhance development in the region by promoting non-violent interactions and collaborations.

The UN-supported intervention that will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Kenya and Uganda will be implemented in the region to reduce tensions resulting from access to shared resources such as water and pasture.

Speaking during the launch ceremony in Moroto town, President Kenyatta welcomed the agreement saying it will help spur development in the region which has for many years suffered unnecessary communal conflicts.The UN-supported intervention that will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Kenya and Uganda will be implemented in the region to reduce tensions resulting from access to shared resources such as water and pasture.

“This programme, in cooperation with the UN, is a programme that will help all of us to ensure that we have peace, our people live together and also to enable us develop,” the President said.

He said the peace and development programme will assist in transforming the border region from a conflict zone to an area of progress, development and wealth.

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President Kenyatta and Uganda’s Museveni signing the agreement on September 14, 2019.

The President noted that it is through wealth creation as envisioned in the signed peace and development agreement that the poverty that plague the region can be fought successfully.

“Peace is the foundation of all that is good. Where there’s no peace, no development, there’s no wealth that can be made. I want to thank President Museveni for the work he has done here to ensure that this region which was a conflict zone is now a region of peace,” the President said.

He called for free movement of people, goods and services across borders of African countries saying the continent can’t develop without free trade.

“If you don’t trade, you cannot create wealth. If you do not move, you cannot create wealth. And if you don’t create wealth, all you are doing is institutionalizing poverty. And we want to eliminate poverty from our people,” President Kenyatta said.

“Therefore, our coming here today is to demonstrate, first our unity as Kenyans with our Ugandan counterparts and our counterparts in the East African Community,” he continued.

The President, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Simon Chelugui (Water) and John Munyes (Mining), said Kenya will develop amenities including schools, dams and health centres on its side of the common border that will be accessible to all communities in the cluster.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta|PSCU.

President Museveni, who spoke in Kiswahili and largely dwelt on development projects implemented by his administration over the years in the Karamoja region, thanked President Kenyatta for the various reforms that have enhanced cross-border trade and people-to-people interactions between Kenya and Uganda.

The Ugandan leader singled out reforms at the Port of Mombasa which he said have greatly improved the efficiency of processing and evacuation of Ugandan exports and imports respectively.

On regional connectivity infrastructure, President Museveni called for UN involvement in lobbying donor institutions and development partners to support more regional and inter-country roads.

“One of the advocacy points I want you (UN agencies) to help us with are these cross-border roads. We have already succeeded with His Excellency Uhuru with the road from Mbale through Kapchorwa, Suam to Kitale in Kenya. That one is being worked on.

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“In the same way, we want to work on the road from Moroto through to Kenya. We also need to work on the road from Nakiroro to Kenya… But above all, I want them (UN) to help us with the road crossing through Kenya to Southern Ethiopia,” President Museveni said.

Earlier, the two leaders commissioned the 2.3 million cubic litres Kebebe dam, a community water point that was constructed by the Ugandan government at a cost of 2.5 million US dollars.

The dam which is close to the Kenya-Uganda border serves over 1.5 million animals from the pastoralist Turkana and Karamojong communities.

Governors John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Josphat Nanok (Turkana) spoke at the launch event that was attended by several senior Kenyan and Ugandan leaders.

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Fear of Ebola Virus Brings Border Traffic Between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo to Virtual Standstill

Beatrice Irunga, a 35-year old Congolese trader, says no one can cross the border without washing hands and being checked for fever

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A view of the Poids Lourd checkpoint on the border between Congo and Rwanda, Aug. 1, 2019. VOA

Witnesses say fears of the Ebola virus have brought border traffic between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to a virtual standstill. Long lines and lengthy delays at the border crossings have left many traders frustrated, but officials say health checks are necessary to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Beatrice Irunga, a 35-year old Congolese trader, says no one can cross the border without washing hands and being checked for fever.

The measures are necessary to prevent people from carrying the virus across the border. But trade-wise, Ebola fears have hit hard.

Jemima Ibrahim, a Congolese trader who sells rice and oil in Rwanda, says the long delays at the crossing are costing her time and money.

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Witnesses say fears of the Ebola virus have brought border traffic between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to a virtual standstill. Pixabay

“The loss is huge,” she said. “We buy goods here in Rwanda. To export them to Congo is becoming very hard.”

Rwandan Claudine Irunga says she owns a shop in Goma, on the Congolese side, but can’t reach it because of the delays.

“I left Goma in the morning,” she said. “My shop is open now, and here they are not allowing us to go regardless of every document you can have. I am so sad. They say the border is open, but just look.”

The Rwandan government estimates that 80,000 people cross between Goma and the Rwandan city of Gisenyi each day.

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The government has not said the border is closed. However, it is urging its people not to enter the eastern DRC, where the Ebola virus has killed more than 1,800 people over the past year.

Dr. Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, is encouraging Rwandans not to go to DRC, and instead to find other ways to do their business in the country.

This stance goes against advice from the World Health Organization.

Dr. Kasonde Mulenga Mwinga, WHO country director, supports a flow of people to the member country to be able to address the response that is needed there.

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Long lines and lengthy delays at the border crossings have left many traders frustrated. Pixabay

The Rwandan and Congolese health ministers met Tuesday to discuss measures to stop the Ebola outbreak from spreading.

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Afterward, they said they resolved to enact ways that allow for smoother border crossings while taking “very strong measures to keep the epidemic at bay.” (VOA)

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