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Weekly Maritime Security Report 27 November 2018

West Africa 

Cameroon: Assailants board, hijack trawlers off west coast

23 November

Attackers boarded and briefly hijacked four trawlers 8 nm off western Cameroon. The trawlers have since been released and a patrol has been dispatched to investigate the incident, although further details have not been disclosed.

 

PGI Analysis: The motive behind the attack and the circumstances of the trawlers' release remain unclear. Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea typically target commercial vessels in kidnap-for-ransom attacks off Nigeria, although it is possible that the trawlers were targeted in a similar attack and were released following a ransom payment.

 

Select Maritime News

Argentina: Authorities to close Buenos Aires port, airports during G20 summit

20 November

Authorities announced that the port of Buenos Aires and all airports in the city, excluding Ezeiza international airport, will be closed from 30 November to 2 December due to the G20 summit. The measures were announced to allow extra security for the arrival and departure off delegations for world leaders attending the meeting. Public transport, including metro and bus services, will also be affected during these dates. The port of Buenos Aires is expected to resume operations on 2 December at 1400 hrs local time but an extended closure until 3 December cannot be ruled out.

 

Greece: Authorities seize 1.8 mn contraband cigarettes in Patras port

21 November

Port authorities in Patras seized more than 1.8 mn contraband cigarettes hidden inside a truck, according to local media. Officers searching vehicles for drugs reportedly discovered the cigarettes concealed inside large metal cylinders. The driver was apparently destined for Italy with the illicit cargo. Officers arrested the man and confiscated the cigarettes, the truck and a navigation device.

 

Libya: Navy says Spanish rescue ship intervened in migrant interception off Khoms

26 November

The navy said in a statement a Spanish rescue ship intervened in an operation to intercept a migrant vessel off the northeastern town of Khoms. The navy added that the Spanish vessel had refused to comply with instructions to leave, "hindering the operation and almost causing the migrants to drown". Ten migrants jumped into the water and swam to the Spanish ship while 27 others were detained by the Libyan navy. The navy has repeatedly criticised foreign rescue vessels for hindering migrant interceptions in Libyan waters.

 

Morocco: Police dismantle human trafficking network in Tangier

24 November

The police dismantled a human trafficking network in the northern city of Tangier. Two people suspected of involvement in the illegal immigration network were arrested in the operation, while another eight were detained on suspicion of being undocumented migrants. Migrant departures from Morocco towards Spain have increased in the past year, as other transit countries have shored up anti-human trafficking measures.

 

Morocco: Navy rescues 53 migrants off Nador, finds 15 bodies

24 November

The navy found 15 bodies of sub-Saharan migrants in a stranded boat off the coast of the northern city of Nador. Coast guard personnel rescued 53 survivors from the Spain-bound vessel, which had been stranded at sea for day after its engine failed. Moroccan authorities say they have stopped nearly 70,000 illegal migration attempts between January-September 2018.

 

Oman: One injured in incident at Khasab port

22 November

A foreign worker was injured in an incident at Khasab port. The cause of the injury was not immediately confirmed and there were no reports that the incident affected port services. Oman ranks higher than other countries in the region for workplace safety, though industrial accidents occur sporadically.

 

Peru: Robber steals ship's stores at Callao Anchorage

24 November

Duty crew on board a vehicle carrier at Callao Anchorage sighted a robber on the forecastle deck and raised the alarm. Crew later found ship's stores had been stolen. Opportunistic robberies are common at Callao Anchorage.

 

Portugal: Riot police disperse stevedore protest at Setubal port

22 November

Riot police reportedly dispersed a picket line of striking Stevedores at Setubal port to clear the way for strike-breakers hired to resume shipments of cars made at the nearby Volkswagen Autoeuropa plant, according to Euronews. Thousands of cars have reportedly piled up at the port and at the plant since the strike began on 5 November, forcing the manufacturer to cancel seven shipments. Stevedores are protesting against the port authority over what they claim to be wage discrimination against a majority of stevedores who have no permanent contracts and are usually hired for a day's job. There were no reports of violent altercations between protesters and police.

 

Tunisia: Customs seize cannabis, contraband cigarettes at Tunis port

25 November

Customs officials seized shipments of cannabis and contraband cigarettes in two separate operations at Tunis's La Goulette port. The first operation saw customs officials confiscate 2,970 cigarette packs aboard a truck registered in an unspecified foreign country. In the second operation, customs seized 50 sheets of cannabis aboard a passenger vehicle registered abroad but driven by a Tunisian national. The weight of the seized narcotics was not disclosed.

 

Tunisia: Navy rescues 15 migrants off Zarzis

23 November

The navy rescued 15 migrants off the coast of Zarzis. The migrants' vessel had capsized for an unspecified reason. Two other migrants were rescued by a fishing boat and subsequently managed to flee from the authorities. Attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are common in Tunisia, which suffers from poor economic conditions and high unemployment.

 

Ukraine: Moscow ship capture raises tensions in Kerch Strait

25 November

Russian forces have captured three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait, preventing their access to the Sea of Azov, marking a significant escalation in tensions between the two countries. During the incident, two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug were reportedly captured, along with 23 Ukrainian crew, several of whom were reportedly injured. Each country has blamed the other for the incident. Russia accused the Ukrainian vessels of illegally entering its waters and suspended traffic through the strait, citing security reasons. The incident sparked protests outside the Russian embassy in Kiev, as well as outside the Russian consulates in Odessa and Kharkiv. Russia reopened the Kerch Strait in the early hours of 26 November. The UN Security Council is expected to meet later on 26 November to discuss the incident.

 

United Kingdom: Report warns of surge in illegal migration ahead of Brexit

22 November

Police will have to deal with a surge in illegal migrants trying to enter the UK because people trafficking gangs have told migrants the Channel crossing will be more difficult after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, The Times newspaper reported, citing French officials. There has reportedly been an increase in arrests at ferry ports in Calais and the Channel since the beginning of October. The Times claims that the trafficking gangs are likely trying to spark panic among migrants and extract larger trafficking fees.

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