Covid-19 and 2021 Global Border Security Challenges

by Igwe Martin, Director Media & Advocacy, WAANSA Nigeria

Covid-19 the disease caused by the novel Corona virus was first reported officially in Wuhan City, China in December 2019, while some of the earliest known cases had a link to the wholesale food market in Wuhan, their store owners and some regular visitors to the market tested positive (WHO Covid-19 Report 94).

The pandemic has disrupted both supply and demand of goods and services within borders in interconnected world economy. On the supply side, infection reduced international/trans-border labour supply while lockdown, business closure and social distancing also caused tremendous disruptions. On the demand side, lay off and the loss of income worsened economic prospects, heightened unemployment, hunger and all social indices “capable of worsening global border security (www.aa.com.fr).

Nigeria lost 20 doctors in one week; a country where when a doctor dies ten thousand lives are put at health risk. Nigeria investment promotion council has predicted the reduction of foreign direct. Investment by 50% in 2021, Covid-19 has heightened the vulnerability of migrants to the risk of human trafficking and smuggling. Migrants from Cambodia cannot enter Thailand as strict measures have been put in place to stop another pandemic surge. Years of comprehensively neglecting of humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants in Turkey-Greece border collided with Covid-19 to create untenable social security situation, Trump Administration which eliminated access to asylum at the American-Mexico border expelled more than 315000 between March 2020 – December, 2020.

Dr. Raj Panjabi an adviser to former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Covid 19 has confirmed that 7000 unprotected health workers have died, he continued by confirming that over one trillion dollar of work, services done by women in healthcare went unpaid. Victims of these may have no choice than to find desperate survival alternative. Tuberculosis patients, campaign to battle malaria, polio, AIDS, Hepatitis were all left in disarray.

On March 24th 2020, 78 Ethiopia migrants were crammed to be moved into Mozambique across the Northern border with Malawi. Noticing noise inside the lorry, Mozambican authorities opened the lorry and found dead bodies of 64 migrants along with 14 survivors.

They were being smuggled along the popular southern wall towards South Africa (Policy Brief Global Institute against transnational organized crime, April 2020).

The emerging threat which poses, acute danger to human life, is the sale of falsified medical products online by organized cross-border criminal syndicates targeting individuals health facilities and public agencies, continued cyber attack targeting health agencies and worse of it all criminal online sexual abuse targeting illegal migrants who are more vulnerable to exploitation.

Global Border Security managers are likely going to face different challenges as global mobility is shrinking due to government policies, such policies will not stop people being displaced from their homes, asylum seekers and migrants attempting dangerous journey to cross land or sea borders in search of safety and economic opportunity.

2021 is likely going to be a border security challenging year as corona virus has exacerbated the factors pushing people to migrate and engage in trans-border crimes while rendering internally displaced camp more dangerous and recruiting ground for trans-border criminals.

These disturbing developments have provided governments with excuses of implementing hard line often dubious migration policies. The ever-growing challenging nature of threats of trans-border crimes, whether by man made through terrorism or activities of cyber attacks call for the need to continually review and update policies practice and technologies to meet up with the challenges this new year. African leaders must also unite and revolutionalize Agriculture at least to fight hunger and poverty and set a stage for African green revolution. International co-operation through the convention against transnational crime is more urgent than ever.

World Border Security Congress can reduce the pressure of trans-border crime by networking, encouraging global leaders to see the need to improve business environment, integrate youth in governance, appeal to international policy makers, to engage in policies capable of increasing public trust and confidence and above all strengthen transparency and good governance. During a holiday visit to Cote d’Ivoire more than a decade ago, we met with potential illegal migrants in San Pedro Port, the second largest port in Ivory Coast. They were all graduates from Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia with reasonable amount of financial resources capable of initiating productive economic engagement in their respective countries but they have lost hope in their respective countries and according to them, they are ready to become refugees in any country that can receive them. The energy of these desperate illegal migrants can be transformed to positive value to their countries if structures are put in place to accommodate their concerns.

While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year that put to test global resilience and ability to survive tough cross-border criminal challenges and with criminal networks looking for desperate ways to profit from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 it is critical (as advised by United Nation Secretary) for governments to unite in combating human trafficking, gun smuggling and other cross border crimes. Exposing the crimes itself, educating the world on the dangers of these crime to sustainable development which world border security congress has professionally engaged must be encouraged by both private and public Global Peace actors, objectively committed to end organized trans-border crime.
When the going gets tough, the tough keeps going.