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Border closure: OYSG seeks stakeholders’ cooperation

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Oyo State Government has sought the cooperation of security agencies, traditional rulers and other stakeholders to halt illegal migration into the state amidst the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, the State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, made the call during a sensitisation drive on the COVID-19 pandemic in Oke Ogun area of the state.

Olatubosun’s call is contained in a statement issued by Mr Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor on Saturday in Ibadan.

Olatunbosun, who led other members of the state COVID-19 taskforce’s media team, said that the concerted efforts of the stakeholders and the state’s security architecture in border towns were necessary to prevent illegal entries, which might pose threat to public health.

He added that both conventional and non-conventional security apparatuses were important in the bid to check illegal entry into the state.

The commissioner said that many towns and villages in the Oke-Ogun area share boundaries with neighbouring Kwara and the Benin Republic.

“In order to check the influx of illegal migrants, who might have contracted COVID-19 into the state, it has become imperative for all stakeholders to work together.

“Both conventional and non-conventional security agencies have roles to play in stopping the illegal immigrants through the borders,’’ Olatunbosun said.

He said that the state task force, under the leadership of Gov. Makinde was doing everything possible to fight the pandemic.

The commissioner remarked that the sensitisation was aimed at enlightening the people of the areas on how they could prevent COVID-19.

“Apart from sensitisation, the state government has been distributing face masks to residents of the areas.

The COVID-19 task force media team and the Nigeria Red Cross Society, represented by Mrs Adekunbi Oladipo, visited some markets and palaces in the Oke-Ogun communities to enlightening the people and distributed face masks freely to the people.

The residents were urged to adhere to all government’s directives on physical distancing, hand washing, the use of sanitisers and wearing of face masks.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Foreign

IOM partners with South Sudan to enhance COVID-19 border surveillance

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday that it has entered into a partnership with the South Sudanese government and other United Nations agencies to ramp up surveillance at the country’s borders to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The UN migration agency said a joint team led by government officials recently completed assessment on the establishment of an entry point in Wunthou, Renk, a county bordering the Blue Nile state of Sudan.

“Renk is an important and busy trade and humanitarian corridor,” Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan‘s chief of mission, said in a statement issued in Juba.

With 40 to 50 trucks moving across the border each week, Renk has proven to be an important trading hub and is vital to the humanitarian aid lifeline connecting South Sudan and Sudan, Chauzy said.

“As a first step and before establishing a fully-fledged point of entry, infection prevention and control measures such as the installation of handwashing stations must be in place as well as proper management of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19,” he said.

Chauzy said the team assessed the preparedness and capacity to carry out border management, and found that protracted disputes over demarcation between Sudan and South Sudan due to lack of shared intelligence, leaving movement across the borders uncoordinated.

Zacharia Modi, director of public health in the ministry of health, said: “It is an important step to ensure that while we keep borders open for essentials and humanitarian relief, we do so while taking precautions that protect the public from COVID-19 transmission.”

Modi noted the need to strengthen the capacities of local authorities, frontline officers and local partners in responding to the pandemic, including improving the current infrastructure that is not yet adequate to respond to the health crisis.

“We are very pleased that this joint assessment with the International Organization for Migration and other partners took place,” Modi said.

South Sudan has 1,317 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with six recoveries and 14 deaths, as of Tuesday.

(XINHUA)

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Checkpoint on Chinese-Kyrgyz border to reopen for cargo

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The Torugart checkpoint on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan will reopen for cargo from June 8, the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan said Wednesday.

Following bilateral talks, the two sides agreed to restore the Torugart checkpoint from June 8 for cargo transportation between China and Kyrgyzstan, the embassy said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the restrictions on passenger transportation between both sides will remain in place, the embassy said, adding that authorities of both countries will further discuss the issue.

There are two border crossings — Irkeshtam and Torugart — on the Chinese-Kyrgyz border. Both were closed on Jan. 23 in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, both sides have agreed to restore the Irkeshtam checkpoint for freight traffic between the two countries.

(XINHUA)

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UN steps up cross-border aid delivery to NW Syria

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The United Nations is stepping up cross-border delivery of life-saving assistance to people in need in northwest Syria, including health items to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, said a spokesman on Tuesday.

The massive scale-up has seen an average of over 1,350 trucks per month crossing from the two Security Council-authorized border crossing points in Turkey in the first five months of 2020, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In May alone, 1,781 trucks crossed into Syria, the highest number of trucks to go across the border since the operations were first authorized by the Security Council in 2014, he said.

Despite the massive operation, needs remain incredibly high throughout northwest Syria, with 2.8 million people in need, including over 1 million people living in camps or informal shelters, he told a virtual press briefing.

The United Nations remains concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on people across the country, whose health care system has been decimated by almost a decade of war, he said.

The Syrian authorities reported 123 COVID-19 cases with six deaths as of Monday.

(XINHUA)

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Russian guards detain drunk Ukrainian serviceman for illegal border crossing

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Russian border guards have detained a drunk serviceman from the Ukrainian Armed Forces for illegally crossing the Russian border into Crimea, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said Tuesday.

The intoxicated offender was identified as E. Dobrinsky, born in 1992, the FSB said in a statement.

During a search of the detainee, a narcotic drug was allegedly discovered and seized from him, the statement added.

An illegal crossing of the Russian border is punishable by a fine of up to 200,000 rubles (around 2,900 U.S. dollars), or up to two years of forced labor or imprisonment, according to the Russian Criminal Code.

(XINHUA)

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Four South Sudan soldiers shot dead by Ugandan military in contested border area

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At least four South Sudanese soldiers were killed by their counterparts from neighboring Uganda over the weekend, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Lul Ruia Koang, spokesperson for the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF) said the incident between SSPDF forces and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) happened on Sunday after the two sides exchanged fire in a contested border area in the southern parts of the country.

UPDF soldiers opened fire on our soldiers in Buya and as a result, they killed four on the spot and wounded another,” the spokesperson told Xinhua by phone.

The disputed area is claimed by communities of Kajo-Keji county of Central Equatoria state in South Sudan and their neighbors from Yumbe district of Uganda.

Koang said the SSPDF soldiers were conducting foot patrol to enforce cross-border movement restrictions at the time of the clashes.

“The area where our servicemen were killed is a disputed area,” the spokesperson said, adding that calm has since returned to the region after the two governments agreed to investigate the cause of the fighting.

“We have requested for an investigation to be conducted so that we know why they opened fire on soldiers who were on foot patrol and does not pose any threat to them,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Tunisia to reopen land, air and sea borders from June 27

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Tunisia decided to reopen the land, air and sea borders from June 27, Tunisian government announced on Monday.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh also decided that Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4, after his meeting with the national commission to combat coronavirus.

Tunisia has reported 1,084 confirmed coronavirus cases so far.

China has helped Tunisia in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 16, China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia’s Ministry of National Defense, including facemasks, test kits and medical protective googles.

Meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Tunisia Wang Wenbin on May 1, Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said his country is grateful to China for its support in Tunisia’s ant-coronavirus fight.

(XINHUA)

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Russia says NATO increases military activity near its borders

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Despite the spread of COVID-19, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has significantly increased military activity with a “clear anti-Russian orientation,” Russia’s top general said Monday.

“By similar actions, the United States and its allies, hiding behind an invented threat of ‘Russian aggression,’ continue to destroy the existing security system in Europe,” Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told a briefing.

Naval drills held by NATO in early May on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War were provocative because they involved striking targets on Russian territory, he said.

According to Rudskoi, the Russian Northern Fleet has discovered the deployment of the NATO ships and began tracking them, which “prevented incidents and demonstrated our determination to protect our interests in the Arctic.”

The Russian Defense Ministry constantly monitors and records the high level of military activity of the United States and its NATO allies near Russian borders, Rudskoi said.

Although the NATO Defender-Europe 20 drills were scaled down this year because of the pandemic, almost all combat training tasks during the drills were carried out at training grounds located in close proximity to Russia.

Currently, activity by the United States air forces and Washington’s NATO allies has also increased near the Russian border, along with aerial reconnaissance near the Baltic and the Black seas.

On top of this, Russia is concerned about the continued build-up of missile defense infrastructure in Poland, in addition to an already deployed facility in Romania, where Tomahawk cruise missiles could be placed, Rudskoi said.

(XINHUA)

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Iran, Turkmenistan agree to reopen borders amid easing of COVID-19 restrictions

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Iran and Turkmenistan have agreed to reopen borders on June 10 as the restrictions pertaining to the novel coronavirus are eased in both countries recently, Iranian ambassador to Ashgabat announced on Sunday.

The rail and road borders between the two countries will reopen under strict monitoring of health protocols, Gholamabbas Arbab Khales told official IRNA news agency.

Iran and Turkmenistan had previously agreed to reopen borders on June 1, but the date was postponed to June 10 for disinfection operations at the border posts, said Arbab Khales.

He noted that at a ministerial meeting among Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as negotiations between the heads of railway companies of the three countries, they have agreed to install sanitizing tunnels at both sides of the borders to help better implement health protocols.

The ambassador did not mention whether the reopening of border crossings includes only trade transactions or passengers as well.

Iran and Turkmenistan closed borders in late February after Iran reported first cases of COVID-19 in the country.

(XINHUA)

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Zimbabwe steps up security measures at quarantine centers, border areas

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Zimbabwe will tighten up security at COVID-19 isolation centers across the country to prevent quarantined returnees from escaping, a senior government official has said.

Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa told the Sunday Mail that government will tighten up security, especially in the country’s border areas to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“It has been the government’s position that security be heightened so that we reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Government is even working on introducing drones so that we increase security measures in border areas,” Mutsvangwa said.

More than 118 people have fled from a coronavirus quarantine centers in Zimbabwe, sparking fears of a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The escapees were citizens who had recently returned from abroad, mainly from Botswana and South Africa.

Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi urged the community to report returnees who evade the COVID-19 screening processes.

“We appeal to the community to put their safety, health and security first, and report all returnees who evade the required COVID-19 screening processes to curtail the spread of the pandemic,” said Nyathi.

Zimbabwe had as of Saturday reported 174 COVID-19 positive cases.

(XINHUA)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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