95% of all trade in the regions of East, Horn and Southern Africa goes through seaports and other maritime routes. Due to this high amount of incoming traffic, ports across Africa are vulnerable to transnational crime and smuggling. In this context, thirty-five national experts in the field of migration management and maritime security from twelve countries gathered in Madagascar for a regional conference to identify priority actions to support continental and regional solutions in this field. This three-day conference, which started on the 1st of October, was jointly organized by the UN Migration Agency (IOM), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and Interpol.
The conference gathered countries from the Horn of Africa region (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan) as well as from the Indian Ocean (Comoros, France (Réunion), Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania). The event focused on maritime security and transnational organized crime including common threats such as piracy, terrorism, arms smuggling, corruption, human trafficking and smuggling of persons, drug trafficking, and other illegal acts.
In his welcome remarks, Mr Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa, emphasised that “facilitating the safe and orderly movement of goods and persons remains a priority concern at ports and along sea borders.” He added that "this Regional Conference provides a unique opportunity to strengthen regional collaborative approaches related to maritime security threats and challenges among them trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants.”
For his part, Mr Hamadi Boléro, the IOC’s Secretary General welcomed this initiative and stressed on the importance of establishing formal regional mechanisms for the exchange of maritime information and the coordination of joint operations at sea to enhance maritime governance. He stated that “the two regional MASE (Maritime Security Programme) set the base for these regional maritime security mechanisms, which are in line with the needs of the region. Five countries signed these agreements but, it is of upmost importance that other states join and sign them to ensure a more sustainable and stronger maritime security and safety architecture in the Western Indian Ocean.”
On the Better Migration Management Programme (BMM):
The BMM programme is funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The overall objective of this programme is to improve migration management in the Horn of Africa region, and in particular to curb the trafficking of human beings and the smuggling of migrants within and from the Horn of Africa while taking into consideration the country specific migration dynamics. IOM is one the main implementing partners for the BMM programme along with UNODC, GIZ, Expertise France, Italian State Police, CIVIPOL and the British Council.