Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania are to join forces this year at a maritime security body based in Maputo with technical support from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Organized Crime (UNODC)
“We already have everything,” including “a dedicated budget”, so “this year is decisive”, César Guedes, the UNODC representative in the Mozambican capital told Lusa.
The three countries signed a memorandum of cooperation in the area of maritime security in 2018, but electoral calendars in each country hindered developments, which will now recommence.
“This cooperation will be relaunched,” Guedes says.
The project is supported by Japan, the United States of America, France, Germany and the European Union, who are key partners not only for the ‘dedicated budget’ of the trilateral partnership but also for actions across the Indian Ocean.
UNODC’s maritime security project itself will be reinforced with two experts based in Maputo.
Mozambique will have an office for strategy, information gathering and exchange among the navies of the three countries, and each country will have an expert joining those from UNODC, Guedes explained.
The aim is to strengthen patrolling and security off the three contiguous coasts – north to south, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa – of the southwest Indian Ocean, including the Mozambique Channel.
The Mozambican coast has been referenced as an important crossing point on the southernmost route of drugs from Afghanistan to the northern hemisphere.
Recent seizures include 444 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin worth more than €40 million, apprehended in late January by the French navy in the Mozambique Channel, where France has some islands.
“No country can face these dynamics alone,” said César Guedes, because of their international dimension and the sophisticated resources used by criminal networks.
César Guedes told Lusa, as he had already said in 2020, that the armed insurgency in Cabo Delgado is a sign that the region is appealing for drug traffickers to pass on drugs from Asia to the northern hemisphere.
Mozambican authorities agree. At the end of 2020, the public prosecutor’s office indicted 12 Iranians detained off the coast of Cabo Delgado in December 2019 on a vessel carrying weapons intended for the rebels.
“We must be vigilant,” César Guedes said, underlining the need for cooperation between countries sharing the same Indian Ocean coastline.
“If a country has a challenge of this magnitude, its neighbours will suffer as well. So, it is in the regional interest to see a country like Mozambique strengthened, and with [better] technical resources to face the threat,” he said.
UNODC 🇺🇳 Specialised training on Countering Financing of Terrorism in Mozambique 🇲🇿 (thx 🇬🇧!)launched today with 25 participants from PGR, SERNIC, GIFIM, AT in Pemba & Maputo. Trainers in🇵🇹 🇬🇧 🇿🇦. Estamos juntos 💪🏻 🇺🇳 🇲🇿 🇬🇧! pic.twitter.com/pPoiSUZYgG
— Cesar Guedes (@CesarGuedesF) February 8, 2021
Lusa via Club of Mozambique