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Weekly Maritime Security Report 26 June 2018

East Africa and Indian 

Yemen: Speedboats approach merchant vessel off Hanish Islands

26 June

Two speedboats approached a merchant vessel 10 nm south of Jazirat al Hanish al Jabir island in the southern Red Sea at 1008 hrs local time. The speedboats had eight to 10 persons on board each, but moved away when the embarked armed security team showed their weapons and the vessel was reported as safe. The speedboats had previously approached two other merchant vessels in the area.

PGI Analysis: The incidents mark the latest reports of suspicious activity and suspicious approaches around the Hanish Islands, which have resumed since the beginning of Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015. The motive behind the approaches remains unclear although the area is a known route for weapons and people smuggling and has previously seen attacks by Somali-based pirates.

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India: Navy to conduct joint patrol with Dhaka in Bay of Bengal

26 June

Bangladesh and India's navies will conduct a joint patrol exercise in the Bay of Bengal for the first time. The exercise will be conducted from 27 to 29 June and aims to increase cooperation in combating maritime crime and militancy.

Indonesia: Number of missing persons from ferry accident rises to 180

20 June

Officials stated the number of people missing from a Singar Bangun ferry that capsized on 18 June in Lake Toba, North Sumatra province is thought to have risen to around 180. Initial reports stated that the number was around 80, however more than 200 people had reportedly boarded the ferry. Media reports said that 18 people had been pulled from the water although searches for survivors are ongoing alongside an underwater search to assess the number of casualties. Ferry accidents are common in Indonesia, especially during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr when millions journey to their hometowns to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Italy: Maersk vessel rescues migrants off southern Italian coast

22 June

A Maersk vessel changed its course at 0430hrs local time off the coast of southern Italy to rescue a boat carrying 113 migrants. The vessel underway from Al-Khoms in Libya was asked by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Rome to launch a search and rescue operation. It is unclear where the migrants will disembark. The shipping industry can be affected by migrants at sea as captains of merchant vessels are required to rescue individuals in distress.

Italy: Shipping industry voices concern over EU migrant-rescue policy

25 June

The global trade association for shipping operators, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), voiced concern about the EU's policy regarding migrants at sea, especially since Italy decided to close its ports to migrants rescued at sea. The ICS called on EU members to take measures to guarantee the prompt and predictable disembarkation of migrants at European ports. Commercial vessels worry that their operations could be affected if they carry migrants and are not allowed to enter certain European ports. All vessels, including commercial ones, have the obligation to rescue individuals distressed at sea.

Libya: Navy intercepts 948 migrants off west coast

24 June

The Libyan navy intercepted 948 African migrants in three separate operations off the northwest town of Garabulli, a navy spokesman said. Libya remains an important point of departure for migrants trying to reach European shores despite EU-backed measures against human smuggling.

Somalia: Naval forces seize 251 kg of heroin from dhow

22 June

The naval task force Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) reported that the French frigate, NivĂ´se, had seized 251 kg of heroin worth around USD 2.2 mn from a dhow off the Somali coast on 8 June. Further details of the location of the seizure were not disclosed. French forces have seized almost 1.2 tonnes of heroin as part of CTF 150 in the past three months.

Tunisia: Police arrest senior human smuggling leader after mass drowning

22 June

Police arrested the leader of a human smuggling organisation in Kerkennah, along with one other man. Local media reported that the other detainee was a military officer. The arrests are in connection with the death of 87 people in a Mediterranean crossing attempt off the coast of Kerkennah island on 3 June.

Yemen: UN indicates it may take control of key port

23 June

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, indicated that the UN might take full control of the strategic port of Hodeidah amid an ongoing offensive by UAE-backed forces to take control of the city from Houthi rebels. Griffiths said that the money from the port would be channelled into the state bank. The port is a key entrance point for humanitarian aid for Yemen, which has been suffering from famine and outbreaks of disease as a result of a prolonged conflict.

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