UNODC Eastern Africa News and Stories

You are here: Home / News

Regional Exercise on Strengthening Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean. 

Mahe, Seychelles: The vast expanse of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) presents opportunities and challenges for the countries in the region. As a key maritime trade route, the WIO offers immense economic potential for these nations. However, it also poses security threats such as piracy, illegal fishing, smuggling and drug trafficking, amongst others. Therefore, enhancing maritime security in the WIO region is crucial to safeguarding economic interests and national sovereignty.  

"As a child, I have always dreamed of being a police officer, as I have seen several drug-related incidents in my hometown and witnessing the negative impact of drugs on individuals and families fuelled my passion to pursue a career in law enforcement. I wanted to be part of the solution and contribute towards creating a society free from the devastating effects of drugs," said Ranger Eunice Jira, who has been with the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) for five years and is a boat crew member specialised in communications and operations data retention. She recently completed the two-week Maritime Rule of Law Training (MROLEX) training facilitated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Maritime Crime Programme (UNODC GMCP) in Seychelles, the agency’s training hub for the region, from October to November 2023. The exercise included participation by country teams from Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, and Tanzania.

During the two-week exercise, the participants explored the challenges of maritime security operations, vessel detection, boarding procedures, asset maintenance, and legal prosecution. The training participants engaged in various simulated scenarios and practical exercises. These included scenarios where they had to respond to a suspicious vessel approaching a restricted area, exercises where they practised boarding procedures and maintenance procedures on different types of vessels, and simulations of legal prosecution processes for maritime crimes. Commenting on this, Warrant Officer II Peter Mbugua with KCGS emphasised,This has alleviated my knowledge on maintenance tasks. I learned about the importance of regular inspections and troubleshooting techniques to prevent potential issues whilst on patrol”. These hands-on experiences allowed participants to apply their knowledge and skills in realistic situations guided by a team of experts in each field. Additionally, 2nd LT Anod, Head of Operations for the Somali Police Force Coast Guard Department stated, "As an observer, I have gained insights into the importance of effective communication and coordination among team members during operations and witnessed the thoroughness and attention to detail required in the legal prosecution processes for maritime crimes”.

The significance of MROLEX extends beyond skill-building; it serves as a platform for knowledge sharing and regional cooperation. At the exercise, representatives from national maritime law enforcement agencies exchanged experiences and established professional networks, laying the groundwork for coordinated efforts against common threats. “After this training my colleagues and I have successfully intercepted drugs originating from the Tanzania border to Kenya, resulting in an active court case over the past two months,” said Eric Mwenda Kabiti, a Kenya National Police Service Directorate of Criminal Investigation Officer with the Anti-Narcotics Unit. In addition, Capt. Wong-Pool of the Seychelles Coast Guard said on the topic of such common illegal activity, “It is important to develop such capacity at the regional level. Additionally, we give the chance for all the countries to have common training whereby it facilitates joint operations – something being pushed for in the region under various international and regional frameworks that are being established”.

These principles and recommended actions from this meeting adhere to SDG 14 and further its goals of conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources. In addition, it also aligns with the UNODC's Strategic Vision for Africa 2030 in promoting sustainable development and safeguarding Africa's natural resources. 

Acknowledging the support of the US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs under the project entitled “Improved Application of Information Sharing in Maritime Rule of Law in the Western Indian Ocean” and the collaboration with the Seychelles Government, the Seychelles Minister of Internal Affairs highlighted, "Capacity building trainings, strengthened information-sharing, and enhanced collaboration are imperative in safeguarding our maritime domains", and he concluded the event with optimism for future collaborations for such exercises in the year to come.

As UNODC GMCP continues strengthening maritime security in the WIO, this training aligns with SDG 16, which aims to promote peace, justice, and strong institutions and SDG 14, focuses on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans by addressing security threats that can undermine marine ecosystems. Furthermore, aligns with the UNODC's Strategic Vision for Africa, 2030, emphasising the promotion of sustainable development and the safeguarding of Africa's natural resources.

Watch the video here:

For more information, please contact:

Mr. David O’Connell (

Western Indian Ocean Programme Coordinator

Global Maritime Crime Programme

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Click here to visit the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme website.