The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and INTERPOL organized a technical workshop on Maritime Security: Addressing Transnational Crime and Border Security in East and Southern Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean in Antananarivo, Madagascar from 1-3, October 2018. The meeting involved 40 delegates from 12 countries such as Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Réunion, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania. Other institutions present included IOC, UNODC, GIZ, Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and Transnational Crime Unit of Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Topics covered in the Madagascar workshop include maritime governance, the legal and practical aspect of operating in the maritime domain, how to increase maritime security to track movement of people, and to promote international, regional cooperation and coordination in port areas along maritime routes. The delegates from each country shared their major threats, challenges and priorities in maritime security. Some common issues surfaced were challenges in sharing of maritime information, limited resources, and lack of or non-uniform legislation. The training’s last day was dedicated to a study tour segment to the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Antananarivo, to learn more on sharing of maritime information, improving the regional maritime situational awareness, and how to monitor maritime activities as well as to strengthen capacities of Member States in the region.
General Beni Xavier Rasolofonirina, Minister of Defense, Government of Madagascar, in his special address to the delegates highlighted that, “Transnational Organized Crime such as piracy, illegal trade and fishing need to be addressed for sustainable blue economy. Strengthening maritime security and safety will harness economic activity and sustainable development for the country and the region”. Mr. Jeffrey Labovitz, Regional Director, IOM Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa, in his opening remarks cited that, “this workshop is important as a follow-up mechanism of the Ministerial Conference of the Indian Ocean Commission on maritime security issues held in April 2018 in Mauritius. Irregular migration is often associated with the Transnational Organized Crime and it is crucial to track the movement, share information and coordinate actions to address irregular migration.’’
Two senior officials from the State Department for Immigration, Border Control and Citizens Services under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, represented the Government of Kenya at the workshop. Kenya is currently in the process of establishing the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) to prevent maritime crimes including piracy, drugs, illegal; arms and human trafficking as well as terrorism. Kenya delegate, Mr. Maurice Anyanda, Assistant Director from the State Department for Immigration, Border Control and Citizens Services said, “the workshop is very relevant for Kenya as the Immigration is part of forming the KCGS and Kenya can borrow rich experiences from other counties and institutions. Strengthening inter-agency cooperation in maritime security is key to counter human trafficking and migrant smuggling at ports and along sea borders in Kenya”.
The workshop will be invaluable for Kenya’s ongoing preparations as host to the first- ever global conference on Sustainable Blue Economy from 26-28 November 2018, and maritime security is one of the key themes in the upcoming event. IOM is actively supporting and will be participating in the conference as part of the on-going support to the Kenyan government initiatives in the areas of Diaspora, Safe and Resilient Communities, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Societies, so as to promote safe and regular migration. IOM has been supporting the Kenya State Department for Immigration, Border Control and Citizens Services to strengthen their capacity to manage borders through training, workshops, providing necessary equipment such as patrol vehicles, document examination machine, computers as well as updating the immigration border procedures and operations manual.