Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - European Union Ambassador to The Gambia, Corrado Pampaloni, has underlined that “for a coastal country like The Gambia, maritime security is of critical importance”.
He made the remarks at a forum organized by the European Union Delegation to The Gambia aimed at presenting the opportunities of support that a number of EU regional interventions offer to improve maritime security and the fight against transnational organised crime in the West-African region and in The Gambia in particular.
A statement made to PANA today Thursday noted this was a coordination effort built on the occasion of the simultaneous mission of three EU-funded projects in The Gambia.
"As we all know, The Gambia is indeed plagued by a number of threats, from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing to drugs and counterfeit medicines or timber trafficking and to trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants.
“All of them are of a transnational nature and use the fluvial and maritime routes. The Gambian authorities are working hard on facing these threats and have registered a number of successes, namely in terms of drug seizure.
"However, the fight against transnational crime along maritime routes is a common responsibility for which the EU is willing to bear its part of the burden. This is why we have fielded these three exploratory missions at the same time in The Gambia. They are now entering into deeper discussions with the Gambian partners,” he said.
He added that the whole “Team Europe” in The Gambia (the EU and France, Germany and Spain) were represented, "as a testimony of our engagement with The Gambia on Maritime Security".
According to Ambassador Pampaloni, the support that those projects can offer range from information and data sharing, secured IT equipment, patrol and interception of light boats, training, and joint operations.
He further said the SEACOP V project aimed to contribute to the fight against maritime illicit trade and associated criminal networks in the targeted countries to alleviate its negative impact on security, public health and socio-economic development.
He added that the objective would be to assess the possibility to carry out the phase V of the SEACOP project in The Gambia.
Pampaloni stated that the SWAIMS project aimed to improve maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The project has two main axes, namely strengthening legal, governance and law-enforcement frameworks to better support maritime security and improving law-enforcement operational capacities through customised institutional and technical capacity-building, particularly to assure legal finish.The objective will be to get points of contact to assist with the delivery of equipment to be provided under the project, understand the perception of imminent maritime security threats and to identify areas for possible cooperation where SWAIMS can lend support in future,” he emphasized.
He said the GoGIN+ project aimed at completing the deployment of the YARIS network, saying that YARIS was an information sharing platform, integrating several sources of information, aiming to facilitate and enhance the operational cooperation of stakeholders involved in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
He noted that, at this stage, the YARIS network linked the maritime security centres belonging to the Yaoundé Architecture, and some of their international partners.
He revealed that the next step was the development of YARIS national networks in the coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea, while the Gambia network was expected to be in use in July 2022, just after a specific training implemented by GoGIN+.
“The Organized Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) project supports ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania in reducing transnational organized crime (TOC). To this end, the project strengthens national and regional structures and capacities and fosters evidence-led policy and decision-making.
"Specifically, OCWAR-T supports efforts in enhancing criminal investigation and prosecution, improving small arms control and reducing human trafficking,” he pointed out.
The forum attracted some 30 stakeholders, ranging from officials of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Fisheries, the Gambian Maritime Administration, the Gambian Port Authority, the Gambian Immigration Department, the Gambian Navy, Office of the National Security Adviser, the International Organization on Migration and DCAF.
-0- PANA MSS/RA 10Feb2022