Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 30, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Counter-terrorism committee meets in Nairobi

  • Pirates seize Japanese tanker off Somalia

  • Nigeria aims at recreating jobs in maritime sector

  • AFRICOM places high priority on maritime security

  • Pic of the day – JOLLY ROSSO

    Counter-terrorism committee meets in Nairobi

    UN Security Council, 29 October 2007 – The Security Council's counter-terrorism committee and more than 70 international organisations and United Nations agencies are holding a three-day meeting starting today (Monday) in Nairobi to examine ways that countries can better secure their borders against terrorists and how the UN can help in those efforts.

    The meeting of the 15-member Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) is expected to focus on such issues as hindering the movement of terrorists across national boundaries, bolstering the ability of countries to detect illicit arms shipments and preventing the abuse of the refugee and asylum systems.

    The talks are also expected to stress the need for stronger national efforts – and greater bilateral and regional cooperation – to deny safe haven to terrorists, improve border and customs controls and enhance information sharing.

    Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama, the current CTC chairman, told the meeting's opening that the mobility of terrorists means it is vital for the UN to work closely with international, regional and sub-regional organisations to combat the scourge.

    “Of no lesser importance in combating terrorism is the respect for human rights and international law,” Mr Arias said. “The United Nations has reiterated that any measures taken to combat terrorism must comply with all relevant obligations under international law, particularly human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.”

    Individual sessions during the meeting, which has the theme “Prevention of terrorist movement and effective border security,” will focus on a range of issues, including aviation security, maritime security, cargo security and law enforcement.

    The participating organisations at the Nairobi meeting include the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and INTERPOL, as well as the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the League of Arab States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    The CTC was established by the Security Council in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Its task is to monitor the implementation of a resolution from that year which calls on UN Member States to take steps to strengthen their capacity to counter terrorist activities.

    source – UN News Centre

    Pirates seize Japanese tanker off Somalia

    A Japanese chemical tanker with a crew of 23 on board was seized by pirates off the Somali coast early yesterday, bringing to two the number of highjackings in the past fortnight.

    In the latest incident the tanker, believed to be the GOLDEN NORI, a chemical tanker registered in Panama but owned by Japanese interests, was captured by the pirates in position at 13.05N, 050.24E. The ship issued a distress signal which was picked up by the IMB Reporting Centre in Malaysia which alerted coalition naval forces operating in the area. These were however unable to assist before the tanker had been secreted away to what is thought to be an anchorage off the Somali coast.

    If the normal pattern of highjacking continues the pirates will open negotiations with the owners for the ship and crew’s ransom. The 23 crew consists of a South Korean master and chief engineer plus Korean, Filipino and Myanmar nationals.

    In recent weeks there have been a number of attacks on shipping off the Somali coast – this being the most conducive time for piracy activity on account of weather patterns in the region. These attacks have persisted despite patrols by coalition forces and despite repeated warnings by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) for shipping to remain at least 200 n.miles from the Somali coast.

    The new Somali government appears unable or unwilling to prevent further attacks and observers have compared that during the brief period that the Islamists were in power in the Horn of Africa country piracy was all but stamped out – the few incidents that did take place received stern action from the then government.

    According to sources there are five organised pirate groups actively operating on the Somali coast and the East African Seafarer’s Assistance Programme, based in Kenya claims to know which group is involved with the latest attack.

    Meanwhile, the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports that Somali prime minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has resigned after an ongoing power struggle between him and the country's president Abdullahi Yusuf Hassan.

    "He handed in his letter this morning and the president has officially accepted his resignation," minister of information Madobe Nuunow Mohamed told IRIN yesterday (29 October).

    A civil society source said this was an opportunity for the government to reinvent itself. "Personnel changes alone won't do," he said. "There must be a policy change as well. They must now aggressively pursue reconciliation as a matter of urgency. It is the only thing that can save this country."

    IRIN also reported yesterday that thousands more civilians had fled their homes and more than 30 people were killed after some of the worst fighting between Islamist rebels and allied Ethiopian-Somali government troops that Mogadishu has seen in weeks.

    Nigeria aims at recreating jobs in maritime sector

    Nigeria’s Federal Government says it intends facilitating job creation policies within the maritime industry, despite the domination of port terminal activity by foreign-owned companies.

    As part of this programme an 8-member committee headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Prof Oladapo Afolabi has been established to take the project forward and is expected to make its report within eight weeks.

    Concerns have been raised within Nigeria at the degree with which the maritime industry has been handed over to non-Nigerian companies and the low level participation by Nigerians in the maritime sector has been described as highly deplorable.

    The labour minister said recently that it remained “disheartening that in spite of efforts, our country is not benefiting from the booming shipping business in terms of exploring the vast and massive employment opportunities in the global industry.”

    He said it was also discouraging that Nigeria, which is described as a maritime nation, has a very low number of her nationals gainfully engaged as seafarers in the various types of ocean-going and cabotage ships plying the seas, coastal and inland waters.

    The maritime industry has long been recognised as the critical catalyst for economic growth and development of nations, he said.

    In an unrelated matter, the Leadership newspaper reports that the Nigerian Customs Service wants all cargo cleared from the ports within 48 hours of arrival in order to reduce congestion.

    The report said that Customs was holding talks with clearing and forwarding agents and banking institutions to ensure they play their part in the new policy. Additional training for clearing and forwarding personnel is being provided and greater use of technology is recommended.

    AFRICOM places high priority on maritime security

    by David Mays
    Special to American Forces Press Service

    Washington, DC - Maritime security, which has long been overshadowed by other coalition missions in African nations, will be a top priority for the newly created US Africa Command (AFRICOM), a senior Defense Department policymaker has said.

    "It's something that we hadn't really paid too much attention to for awhile, because we've been focusing more on the peacekeeping problem and ... the political and conflict turmoil on the continent," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Theresa Whelan said. "But maritime security is an area that’s very important for the continent."

    During a conference call from the Pentagon with online journalists and bloggers, Whelan explained that African nations such as Mozambique and Tanzania typically lose more than a billion dollars a year to illegal fishing in their waters, reef destruction and species depletion.

    "Maritime security is important economically to African nations. It's also, though, important from a security standpoint, because what we're seeing is more and more drugs being moved through Africa via maritime routes, arms [are] being moved, there's trafficking in persons through maritime routes, and then of course there's piracy, which is influencing or impacting negatively on international shipping," she said. "That's something I think that is somewhat new in some ways that AFRICOM will be focusing on and that we think is important."

    US Africa Command officially became operational from 1 October. As America's newest unified command, it eventually will assume Defense Department responsibility for military-to-military relations on the entire African continent. But unlike three traditional combatant commands that for decades had shared the responsibility, [the US says] AFRICOM will focus not on combat planning, but on supporting, advising and building the capacity of professional, civilian-controlled African forces.

    "We are not going to be building new bases or putting troops [or] operational forces on the continent," Whelan explained. "We will have presence on the continent, but that presence will be in the form of staff personnel in order to manage our relationship with African countries more effectively."

    Part of that relationship, Whelan noted, is identifying what tools African nations need to help themselves.

    "The African countries want to try to address the security problems that they face in their own backyards," she said. "And the challenge that they have had is just simply not having the wherewithal to do so."

    For instance, Whelan pointed out, the US Air Force earlier this week used a C-17 Globemaster III to airlift hundreds of Rwandan soldiers supporting the African Union peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.

    "This has become something that is important to the Africans, to be able to address these crises in their backyards so that they don’t necessarily spread and become larger problems," she said. "Hopefully, we would enable the AU to better handle crises like Somalia or Darfur or Congo or Burundi -- there's a whole host of them out there."

    In some cases, such as Somalia, which "defies the imagination" because of its level of instability, Whelan explained, AFRICOM can be of little direct and immediate assistance, but in other countries, key partnerships already have begun.

    "In most cases in Africa, actually, we will be focusing on maintaining and hopefully expanding, and deepening maybe is a better word, our existing military-to-military relations with African nations, stable African nations, and that are trying to make a greater contribution to stability in their neighbourhood and in the continent," she said. "Our actions are ultimately going to speak louder than our words."

    (David Mays works in New Media at American Forces Information Service)

    source: www.africom.mil

    Pic of the day – JOLLY ROSSO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Italian Ro-Ro vessel JOLLY ROSSO of Ignazio-Messina Line is berthed at Durban’s Point, handling general and Ro-Ro cargo with the assistance of the terminal’s mobile crane. Ignazio Messina Line ships operate a fortnightly service between Italy (Genoa) and Durban via the Red Sea and East Africa. All ships are prefixed by the name JOLLY – meaning Joker. Picture Terry Hutson

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