On Saturday 25 April the EU Naval Force flagship, HNLMS Johan de Witt, hosted a discussion forum with representatives from the Somaliland Authorities, including Ministers, the Head of the Coast Guard, Attorney General and the Governor and Mayor of Berbera. Also in attendance were a number of international partners and Non-Governmental Organisations. The forum focused on the strategic vision for the future of the Somaliland Coast Guard in relation to security and development in the coastal regions.
Chaired by EUCAP Nestor’s Deputy Head of Mission, Simonetta Silvestri, and the EU Naval Force Commander, Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren of the Swedish Navy, the forum started with a short seminar lead by EUCAP Nestor’s Senior Maritime Advisor aimed at outlining critical requirements for the future needs of the Coast Guard.
Following the forum, a higher level meeting was convened, with participation from several Somaliland Ministers, the Head of the Somaliland Coast Guard and the Attorney General.
At the meeting it was widely recognised by all attendees that the enhancement of the Somaliland Coast Guard’s capabilities was fundamental to ensure stronger maritime security and economic development. Speaking at the meeting, one of the Somaliland officials stated “Somaliland is an oasis of peace surrounded by threats and it is committed to peace and security.” During the meeting it was also stressed that with an 860 km coastline and a State budget of $251 million USD, 47% of which goes on security, support from the international community was vital if the Coast Guard was to continue to develop its capacities.
EUCAP Nestor Deputy Head of Mission added: “You need to have a vision as this is your country and you are in the driving seat. You need to tell us in which area we can help you better.” Underlying the importance of co-operation and co-ordination in the fight against crime in the region, Ms Silvestri added that it was important for security and law enforcement agencies to work together in order to achieve results.
In his response, the Attorney General of Somaliland announced that a Coast Guard draft law would be submitted to Parliament for approval in the near future. He also thanked EUCAP Nestor’s Somaliland team for their support and cooperation.
Closing the meeting, the EU Force Commander, Rear Admiral Haggren, confirmed that having a legal structure in place would better enable the international community to support capacity building for the Somaliland Coast Guard far more effectively.
While the meeting was taking place, a delegation of young officers from Berbera’s Coast Guard were invited on board HNLMS Johan de Witt for a meet and greet with crew members. During the visit both nationalities shared their experiences as young officers. The Coast Guard officers were impressed with the size of the ship and also learned that when it comes to seamanship, maritime forces, regardless of nationality or size, face the same challenges, whether it be the weather or the need for regular training and maintenance of equipment.
In line with the EU comprehensive approach these training activities were facilitated by EUCAP Nestor’s Field Office in Hargeisa which conducts the Mission’s activities in Somaliland.
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian EU mission, under the auspices of the Common Security and Defence Policy, which assists host countries in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean region in strengthening their capacity to ensure maritime security and in particular to fight piracy.