7 June 2016

East Africa: Regional Maritime Search and Rescue Training Opens in Kigali

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Lt Col. Saeed, the head of maritime cell at East African Standby Force, speaks to the media in Kigali.

There is need to enhance the capacity of military personnel under marine surveillance to ensure they perform effectively in saving lives and property during search and rescue process, officials said.

This was said on Monday during the opening of a two-week course on 'maritime search and rescue' in Kigali.

The course drew 26 participants from 10 countries of the Eastern African Standby Force (EASF).

EASF is made up of Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

While opening the course, Brig. Gen Ferdinand Safari, the head of planning at Rwanda's Ministry of Defence, said the course aims at equipping participants with search and rescue management techniques with maritime approaches.

Participants will be briefed on procedures and the execution of search and rescue operations.

Safari added that there is need for mutual support and sharing of experiences in addressing the challenges of emergency preparedness.

"The training represents a systematic approach to training personnel that provides a further orientation to skills and knowledge required by emergency responders during search and rescue operations in the inland waters and at the oceans," he said.

"Being prepared for an emergency demands knowing what to do in a variety of difficult situations. I have no doubt that the next days of the training you will be able to understand the foundation skills necessary to respond effectively at local level, be able to provide required assistance in case of need in your respective countries and in the region at large."

Lt Col S.K Saeed, the head of maritime cell at East African Standby Force, said in most cases of search and rescue, the surveillance officers often operate in an uncertainty, receive incomplete or incorrect information.

As a result, he said, a 'Mayday' call may be received without a location of a boater, a ferry, and fishermen among other water users who are reported missing.

Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by aviators and mariners.

Saeed said search and rescue is an international obligation and countries have to incorporate it into their decree and plan their intent to align to international norms through the development and improvement of their search and rescue services and cooperation among member states.

The course provides theoretical and practical knowledge on the planning and management of search and rescue organizations.

Participants will be equipped with knowledge and skills required to carry out their respective roles effectively and efficiently in an integrated emergency response system.

"We should realise that incidents at sea and in the air pose a risk to human lives and property in every region of the world. EASF with her partners are making all efforts in promoting maritime and aeronautical search and rescue coordination and cooperation among member states," he said

"We should realize that the effectiveness and efficiency of the regional SAR capacity and cooperation needs further enhancement through contacts and training of this nature," said Saeed.

The course is supported by the Nordic countries especially the government of Norway.

East Africa

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