…As Death toll hits 52 after migrant boats sink off Djibouti***
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, says the Nigerian Navy will improve on its sea exercises in order to tackle maritime crimes within the waters.
Ibas said this at the opening of a two-day workshop organised by the Naval Doctrine and Assessment Centre (NDAC), holding at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Quorra, Apapa, Lagos.
Ibas was represented by the Chief of Naval Safety and Standard, Rear Adm. Ifeola Mohammed.
The theme of the two-day workshop is: ‘Improving Nigerian Navy’s Operational Procedures and Efficiency’.
According to the CNS, the workshop is for the Navy to access the various exercises and operations that were conducted in the Year 2018.
“Normally at the beginning of the new year, we do an assessment so as to see which lessons we can learn from the previous exercises and apply them to the new ones we will be conducting this year.
“This will allow for more improvement and ability to superintend over our waters and be able to deliver our mandate, which is to secure the maritime environment.
“The Navy will improve on its operations this year with the aim of delivering on its mandate and to defend the nation’s territorial integrity.
“At the same time, we will ensure safety of ships within the commercial environment.
“We have been achieving this over the years and we believe strongly that the Year 2019 will also be the same thing,” he said.
The CNS also said that the workshop was premised on the enormous challenges the Navy was currently facing.
He said that the Navy had been striving to deploy a force that had been trained to contend with the country’s asymmetric security dynamics.
“It is against this backdrop that the role of NDAC, in monitoring lives and simulated naval and joint exercises/operations; is germane towards strengthening navy’s operational capability.’’
He said that the NDAC was expected to continuously review naval techniques, tactics and procedures in the conduct of maritime and land-based operations.
Ibas also assured the public that the Navy had contingency plans being put together to ensure the forthcoming general elections were successful.
“We will do everything in our power to support necessary institutions, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigerian Police and other security agencies,” he said.
Earlier, the Admiral Superintendent, NDAC, Rear Adm. Maurice Eno, commended the Naval authorities for organising the workshop, adding that the time was apt.
He said that the Centre observed and assessed several fields and simulated exercises conducted by the Defence and Naval Headquarters, and other international navies in 2018.
In the meantime, the death toll from the sinking of two boats carrying migrants to Yemen from Djibouti rose to 52 on Thursday, the UN migration agency said, appealing to regional leaders to take action to stop such tragedies.
Rescuers working in Djibouti’s northeastern Obock region continued to recover bodies on the Horn of Africa nation’s coast following the capsizing of the two boats earlier this week.
The sinking of the vessels, which survivors say were mostly carrying Ethiopians, is the latest tragedy to occur on the risky route used by African migrants seeking work in the Middle East.
“No human being deserves such plight. It is up to actors and leaders working across the region to prevent such tragedies which take innocent lives,” Lalini Veerassamy, chief of mission for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Djibouti, told AFP.
The figure of 52 is up from a previous toll of 43 on Wednesday.
Veerassamy also revised downwards the number of survivors to 15 from 16, citing an error in IOM’s tally.
The number of migrants affected remains unclear but IOM believes one of the two boats carried 130 people.
Speaking to AFP, 15-year-old Djiboutian survivor Id Mohamed said he was loaded onto a boat together with about 80 Ethiopians.
“All that I remember is that the captain said the motor had a serious problem and the boat is going to sink. After that, I don’t know what happened,” he said, adding that he was pulled from the water by the Djiboutian coast guard.
“This is the worst thing I’ve been through in my entire life, even though I wasn’t in the sea long. I thank God for saving me,” he said.
Located across the Bab el-Mandeb strait from Yemen and next to volatile Somalia and Ethiopia, Djibouti has in recent years become a transit point for migrants heading to seek work on the Arabian Peninsula, with the Obock region serving as a hub.
This migration continues even though Yemen is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
UN officials say 80 percent of the population — 24 million people — are in need of aid and nearly 10 million are just one step away from famine, with many Yemenis fleeing to Djibouti.
Meanwhile, migrants transiting Yemen on foot face abuse and kidnapping, the UN says.
Still, the flow continues: in 2017, 100,000 migrants arrived in Yemen.
The sea crossing itself has repeatedly proven perilous.
Last year, at least 30 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia believed to be headed for Djibouti drowned when their boat capsized off Yemen amid reports of gunfire being used against those on board.
Additional report from Guardian NG