Lessons for Africa from devastating Mauritius oil spill
The shipwreck of the MV Wakashio has caused one of Mauritiuss worst environmental catastrophes and i..
The shipwreck of the MV Wakashio has caused one of Mauritiuss worst environmental catastrophes and its devastating impact is expected to last for decades. Over 1 000 tonnes of fuel oil leaked into pristine Mauritian waters, covering the nearby shore in toxic sludge and immersing the ecosystem in a desperate struggle for survival.
This environmental crisis couldnt have occurred at a worse time for Mauritius. The spill will seriously impede the recovery of a Mauritian economy highly dependent on coastal tourism and already battered by COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Mauritius and other African states need to promptly review their contingency strategies and response capacities so we can start positing immediate lessons to be learnt.
The national and international response to the MV Wakashio crisis was commendable. France, India, Japan and the International Maritime Organization cooperated to support local Mauritian efforts in a race against time to pump out the fuel from the vessel, which eventually broke apart on 15 August. Meanwhile local volunteers flocked to the shore with improvised booms and barriers.
Mauritius and other African states need to urgently review their contingency strategies
While a full investigation and report is urgently required, it is possible to start piecing together a narrative of what has occurred and how it turned so bad so quickly.
The MV Wakashio left China on 14 July heading for Brazil. On 25 July it ran aground on the reefs located roughly a mile off Pointe dEsny and the Blue Bay Marine Park along the south-eastern shore of Mauritius. No oil leakage was reported at the time, and the Mauritius coast guard swiftly deployed booms and took other preventive actions. The government activated its National Oil Spill Contingency Plan the following day.
By 5 August a minor oil slick was observed surrounding the vessel. It was still assumed that the countrys contingency plan was sufficient and that the risk of oil spill was still low. But then the MV Wakashio flooded and began sinking. Oil started to spill into the sea.
On 7 August Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a national environment emergency. Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo suggested that this is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem. Mauritius called for international help once the scale of the emergency became apparent and quickly overwhelmed the resources and capacity of the countrys national contingency plan.
The disaster demonstrates how even seemingly small oil leaks and spills can be devastating
Some of these resources were acquired as part of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention project from 2007-2012. The project also called for the establishment of the Regional Marine Pollution Co-ordination Centre (RCC) for Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Western Indian Ocean.
South Africa will host the RCC, and its establishment must now be expedited. The disaster demonstrates how even seemingly small oil leaks and spills can be devastating, especially when they occur in sensitive and critically important environmental areas.
Will other African countries and regional organisations develop sufficient capacity to respond to crises on the scale of the MV Wakashio without depending on international assistance? There is a great risk of oil spills and leaks occurring elsewhere in the African maritime domain in the future, especially spills that occur during bunkering.
The Cape of Good Hope route is a maritime super highway. Some countries, like South Africa, are able to swiftly respond on their own, as demonstrated in May when the potential wreck of the Yuan Hua Hu, also carrying 4 000 tonnes of fuel oil, was narrowly averted.
Theres a great risk of oil spills occurring elsewhere in Africa, especially during bunkering
Many countries such as Mauritius lack at least some of the resources or capacities needed to deal with such a disaster. Governments require up-to-date assessments to plan future responses. Better and more collective resources and skills at a regional or continental level are required.
Improved accountability mechanisms are also important. The Japanese owners of the MV Wakashio have offered, under international obligations, to pay compensation for applicable damages caused by the oil spill. Yet in other cases it might not be as easy to track the owners and determine liability (as can be seen in the investigation into the tragic Beirut port explosion of 4 August).
It is time for African maritime institutions to review their approaches and develop appropriate expertise and response mechanisms. This should ensure fast and effective regional or continental action when the inevitable oil leaks arise.
The results should be reported to key multilateral organisations – ideally to the African Union (AU) – as part of the implementation of 2050 Africas Integrated Maritime Strategy. The AU could, for instance, convene a consultative forum for experience and skills sharing with inputs from all the regional economic communities such as that hosted by the Southern African Development Community in 2018.
Disaster relief is expensive, but is nowhere near as controversial as other maritime issues such as creating security frameworks and determining boundaries. It can also foster collaboration anchored in regional AU institutions that draw on indigenous expertise and capacities.
Strategic Twinning of Rabat And Madrid: A Defense Against Mediterranean Tension
Rabat – The writer-journalist, Abdelhamid Jmahri believes that the wish today of Morocco and Spain, after the clarification of the foundations of their cooperation, is to establish a geostrategic twinning that goes beyond the limits of close cooperation and privileged partnership, thus blocking the way to maneuvers aimed at exacerbating tensions in the Mediterranean region.
Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”
In an editorial to appear in the Saturday edition of the Arabic-language daily “Al Itihad Al Ichtiraki”, he notes that this ambition is clearly displayed through the will of HM King Mohammed VI in His call to inaugurate “a new unprecedented stage ” and also that of King Felipe VI of Spain calling for weaving partnership relations for the 21st century.
He maintains that the High Level Meeting (RHN) held last Thursday in Rabat is the bearer of strategic partnerships specific to countries concerned with a perfect understanding of their common interests and also sharing the same conception of the interactions of international action, at the present time. as in the future.
While emphasizing that the two Kingdoms have set a living example on the priority nature of the conciliatory diplomatic approach and its supremacy in the settlement of disputes, he observes that the agreements signed during this High Level Meeting relate to key sectors targeted , in support of a common understanding of priorities.
This article is originally published on msn.com
Spain-Morocco Reconnection: Post-Crisis Efforts
After a deep diplomatic crisis, Spain and Morocco cemented their reconciliation on Thursday in Rabat, despite criticism in Madrid over too many concessions from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Mr. Sanchez, accompanied by a dozen ministers, co-chaired a “high-level meeting” (RHN) with his counterpart Aziz Akhannouch, the first since 2015.
“Today we are consolidating the new stage in relations between Morocco and Spain that we have opened,” he said, praising “the enormous unexplored potential of this relationship”.
Before his arrival in Rabat on Wednesday, the Socialist Prime Minister spoke by telephone with King Mohammad VI who invited him to return “very soon” to Morocco for an official visit “in order to reinforce this positive dynamic”, according to the royal cabinet.
Mr. Sanchez ended last March a year of diplomatic estrangement with Morocco by agreeing to support Moroccan positions on Western Sahara.
The crisis erupted in April 2021 after the hospitalization in Spain – under a false identity according to Rabat – of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, sworn enemy of Morocco.
The Rabat-Madrid honeymoon comes as France – another historical partner of Rabat – is pilloried by Moroccan politicians and media who accuse it of having “orchestrated” a European Parliament resolution worrying about freedom of the press in Morocco and allegations of corruption of MEPs in Brussels.
But this idyll is not to everyone’s taste in Spain. The radical left formation Podemos, member of the government coalition, did not wish to be on the trip to Rabat, citing its opposition to Mr. Sanchez’s “unilateral” turn on Western Sahara. A turnaround applauded in Rabat.
The fact that Mr. Sanchez was not received by Mohammad VI is seen as a snub in Spain by the right-wing opposition and the press. The Popular Party, the main opposition force, deplored Thursday, through the voice of its general coordinator Elias Bendodo, that “Spain has given an image of weakness”.
“The absence of Mohammad VI spoils the summit”, wrote the daily El Païs (center left) while the newspaper El Mundo (conservative) headlined: “Mohammad VI shows his position of strength with regard to Spain by posing a rabbit to Sanchez”.
New Economic Partnership
Pedro Sanchez said he hoped for the development of “new investment projects accompanying the extraordinary process of development and modernization of Morocco”. “Morocco and Spain wish to establish a new economic partnership at the service of development”, underlined for his part Mr. Akhannouch.
Twenty agreements were signed on Thursday to facilitate Spanish investment in Morocco – Spain is the third largest foreign investor there – in the fields of renewable energies, water desalination, rail transport, tourism , education and culture. To this end, a new financial protocol has been approved which will double – to 800 million euros – aid from the Spanish government for investment projects in Morocco.
Also in the pipeline is an agreement to “completely normalize the passage of people and goods” through sea and land borders. The opening of land crossings concern the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta, in northern Morocco.
Without forgetting the files of illegal immigration and the fight against terrorism. Madrid highlighted the drop of more than 25% in illegal immigration in 2022 thanks to its police cooperation with Rabat, with 31,219 migrants entering Spain illegally in 2022.
This cooperation, welcomed by Rabat, was however tarnished by the death of at least 23 Sudanese migrants who had tried last June to enter the enclave of Melilla via the Moroccan border town of Nador.
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, was also to plead with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, to reactivate the channels for the expulsion of irregular migrants and return to levels prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. , according to a source from the Spanish ministry.
Finally, Rabat is considered a key partner in the fight against terrorism. An important subject for Madrid after an attack at the end of January attributed to a young Moroccan in an irregular situation against two churches in Algeciras (South) in which a sexton was killed.
This article is originally published on lorientlejour.com
Morocco-Spain Partnership for 21st Century Challenges
Madrid – Aware of the strategic importance of preserving and developing a privileged relationship looking to the future, Morocco and Spain show a firm determination to build a renewed global partnership, up to the challenges but also opportunities offered by the 21st century, said Morocco’s ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich.
Both Countries Are Neighboring And Friendly
“Morocco and Spain are two friendly and neighboring countries, which share common values and interests and which continue to work together to make their relationship an example to follow in all areas,” said Ms. Benyaich in an interview with MAP, on the occasion of the holding in Rabat of the 12th Morocco/Spain High Level Meeting.
It is within the framework of this spirit that fits the speech delivered by HM King Mohammed VI on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, on August 20, 2021, in which the Sovereign called for the inauguration of an unprecedented stage in relations between the two countries, based on mutual trust, permanent consultation and frank and sincere cooperation, recalled Ms. Benyaich.
Responding to the generous appeal of HM the King, the Spanish government has repeatedly reaffirmed its unshakeable will to engage with Morocco in a renewed dynamic to establish a lasting relationship on more solid foundations, observed the Diplomat.
”Today, in accordance with this new dynamic initiated between the two countries since last April, following the visit of the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, to Morocco, at the invitation of HM the King and the adoption of an ambitious roadmap, Morocco and Spain are determined to move forward in the implementation of this virtuous process, by identifying all the appropriate means to give this partnership a serene, lasting basis and an operational character. which will strengthen bilateral relations and create mutually beneficial synergies,” noted Ms. Benyaich in this regard.
In this wake, the Ambassador of Morocco to Spain highlighted the “excellent relations of brotherhood” uniting the two Royal Families, assuring that the “distinguished and privileged ties of solid friendship and mutual esteem between HM the King and King Felipe VI strongly contribute to the consolidation of a unique and exemplary relationship.
Thus, argued Ms. Benyaich, the High Level Meeting between the two countries, which has not taken place since 2015, will undoubtedly constitute an exceptional meeting which will imbue a new dynamic in bilateral relations and will reflect the determination to build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership, under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and King Felipe VI of Spain.
This meeting, she added, is only the concretization of the firm will of the two countries to take an unprecedented step in bilateral relations, on the basis of a clear and ambitious roadmap responding to the aspirations of both friendly peoples.
In this context, the leaders of the two countries are looking into the implementation of concrete actions within the framework of this roadmap encompassing all areas of the partnership and integrating all issues of common interest, in a climate of trust and transparency, said Ms. Benyaich, recalling that, since last April, all the working groups have held regular meetings to put in place the provisions of the new bilateral roadmap.
As a result, the High-Level Meeting in Rabat will reflect this positive state of mind and oriented towards respect for the commitments that drive the Moroccan-Spanish relationship today, Ms. Benyaich concluded.
This article is originally published on mapexpress.ma
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