Kenya releases ship containing weapons for UN peacekeepers

United Nations

United Nations

A Norwegian-flagged ship that was held in Kenya for more than a week over undeclared weapons belonging to the United Nations has been released, the owners of the vessel said.

Kenyan authorities boarded the ship at the port of Mombasa on Sept. 17 and uncovered undeclared weapons in a U.N. shipment destined for peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. defended the shipment.

“Höegh Transporter has finally been released from detention in Mombasa, Kenya, and has continued her ocean voyage,” Hoegh Autoliners, the Norwegian owner of the ship, said in a statement.

The U.N. said the arms were inside armoured personnel carriers destined for its Indian peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hoegh Autoliners said it was not aware of the weapons, which contravened its shipping policies.

“The fact that the vehicles contained guns, which were loaded without our knowledge, caused a breach of Kenyan laws and our own strict policies. It is highly regrettable,” the company said.

There were no drugs found aboard the ship contrary to earlier claims attributed to Kenyan police.

“A search for drugs yielded no results involving vessel or crew,” Hoegh Autoliners said.

According to www.trust.org, Coastguards and navies in East Africa have struggled to stem the flow of drugs through their waters as the region has become a key export route for Afghan heroin destined for Europe.

Kenya police had last week raided the ship on suspicion that it carried drugs and firearms.

According to Reuters, East Africa has become a key export route for Afghan heroin destined for Europe, adding that Regional maritime forces, short of funds and anti-trafficking expertise, have struggled to stem the flow of drugs through their territorial waters.

It explained that Kenyan soldiers and security personnel cordoned off the entire port for hours before seizing the ship, paralysing East Africa’s biggest port, which serves as the main gateway for imports and exports in the region.

“Based on intelligence gathered, the ship is suspected to be carrying fire arms and drugs, but we shall confirm that once the inspection is done,” said Francis Wanjohi, the Kenyan coastal region’s police commander.

Wanjohi did not give further details, but police sources told Reuters the ship is German-owned and named Mv Hoegh. In July, Kenyan police seized 341.7 kg of heroin hidden in the diesel tank of a ship the biggest single seizure of drugs ever at the Indian Ocean port.

Heroin is typically transported from Pakistan and Iran to east Africa, known for its porous borders and weak maritime surveillance, and onwards to Europe.

In November, an Australian Navy warship patrolling Indian Ocean waters in the region seized heroin worth $158 million.

Meanwhile, marking the observance of World Maritime Day, top UN officials recently, highlighted the importance of the international shipping industry, as well as the necessity of maintaining high education and training standards within the sector as a key part of the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

“Through the millennia, shipping has united the world by carrying the goods and commodities that underpin the global economy,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message on the World Day.

“Today, shipping is a modern, highly technical, professional discipline that requires a great deal of skill, knowledge and expertise from the maritime workforce,” he said, adding “A safe, secure and clean shipping industry can only be built on effective standards of education and training, which is the theme for this year’s World Maritime Day.”

He also praised the IMO, the UN specialized agency for maritime safety and environmental protection, noting that it has had a “long and wide-ranging involvement in maritime education and training.”

The Secretary-General also noted the important role the maritime industry will play in the implementation of the goals contained in the 2030 Agenda.

“Looking ahead, the human element in shipping will be increasingly important as the industry moves towards ever higher standards of safety, environmental impact and sustainability, and seeks to do its part to implement the new Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

In his remarks, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu marked the Day by highlighting the importance of shipping to the global community and the key role it has to play in sustainable development.



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