Japan pledges USD 3.7 million for the Maldives Coastguard

Minister Maria with other attendees at the signing ceremony at MRCC | photo: Defence Ministry

Malé, Maldives – Minister of Defence Uz. Mariya Didi on Wednesday afternoon, has honoured the ceremony held to sign the Exchange of Notes between the donor Japan and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to build a training facility at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Vilimalé.

The government of Japan has pledged USD 3.7 million to develop the operations at the MRCC. The funds will be provided through 3 years, establishing a training facility in the first year, and Search and Rescue Maritime Law Enforcement Training Programs conducted in the second year.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Mariya expressed her gratitude for the Government and people of Japan for being one of Maldives’ dearest partners in development, with Japanese generosity shining through all avenues of Maldivian life society even today, be it education, infrastructure, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, environmental management or civil defense. She noted that the story of Maldives and Japan is one that has stood the test of time and that it is the story of one island nation helping out another.

Last November, Japan donated USD 7.6 million to procure communication equipment and diving gear to the Maldivian Coastguard.

Minister Mariya said regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, that the threats to the Maldives maritime domain continue to amplify in scale, with Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing, Piracy, Terrorism and Violent Extremism, Narcotics and Human Trafficking posing challenges to peace and security in the region.

It is this reality that makes the expansion of our maritime domain awareness, an important priority for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration.

Defence Minister Maria

Highlighting that the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center is the nerve center of the Maldives Coast Guard, responsible for maritime search and rescue coordination, and resource management and training in that regard, Minister Mariya expressed her confidence that this Facility will go a long way in boosting the functional efficacy and scale of the Coast Guard’s operations, through more capacity-building and training programs.

She further thanked the UNODC for being an instrumental force in facilitating the project, which joins the list of many such important endeavors the Office was undertaking in the country, be it Counterterrorism, Anti-Human Trafficking or Maritime Security, regarding which there have been multiple training programs led successfully by the UNODC. She noted that it was only in August last year that the UNODC, with generous support from Japan, donated technical equipment to the MRCC, which has made their work much easier.

The ceremony held at the MRCC was attended by Ambassador of Japan to Maldives Ms. Keiko Yanai, Crime Prevention and Crime Justice Officer of the Global Maritime Crime Program from the UNODC Mr Masatomo Yamaguchi, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Ahmed Khaleel, Chief of Defence Force Major General Abdulla Shamaal and Officers of Maldives National Defence Force.