UN opens two new Indian Ocean search and rescue centres
The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has opened two new search and rescue sub-centres in Tanzania and the Seychelles to conduct life-saving missions off the east coast of Africa.
The inauguration last week of the two sub-centres, located on the Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Victoria, the Seychelles, marked a key step in a plan to provide effective and comprehensive emergency coverage off the coast of Africa.
At an IMO conference in 2000, African governments adopted a resolution inviting the countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, from Morocco to Somalia, as well as the nearby Atlantic and Indian Ocean Island States, to establish five regional search and rescue centres and 26 sub-centres to provide services covering the entire coastline areas.
“There is no doubt that, despite the continual advances made in ship technology and in the development of the human element at sea, seafaring remains a challenging and sometimes dangerous occupation,” said Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“Accidents can, and do, occasionally happen and when they do, the sea can suddenly become a very lonely, isolated and, at times, deadly workplace,” added Mr. Mitropoulos, underscoring the importance of an effective maritime rescue system for the nautical community and, in particular, for IMO, as the UN agency responsible for safety at sea.
The Tanzanian and Seychelles sub-centres, commissioned by the IMO and the respective countries’ transport ministries, will operate in conjunction with the existing regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Mombasa, Kenya, which became the first African regional MRCC to be commissioned in May 2006.
It was followed by an MRCC in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2007 and another in Lagos, Nigeria, in May 2008. The fourth MRCC, in Monrovia, Liberia, is slated to open next month.