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SVG signs MOU with USA to strengthen its National Security System

SVG signs MOU with USA to strengthen its National Security System

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The National Security System of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will soon be strengthened as this country’s government and the Government of the United States of America have signed a MOU for the execution of the “Secure Seas Programme.”{{more}}

The signing of the MOU took place on Thursday, February 18, 2011, at the Foreign Affairs Conference Room. Making remarks during the ceremony, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves extended gratitude to the Government of the USA for partnering with St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Secure Seas Programme is a part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, implemented by the Barack Obama administration, in response to increasing rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean. The US is providing US$45 million in the first year of the programme to train and professionalize security forces, boost anti-trafficking efforts and promote citizen safety partnerships.

Gonsalves stated that the programme includes a maritime support package that will provide support to the SVG coastguard. The coastguard unit will be provided with two interceptor vessels, one vehicle, one trailer, information systems and the command control and communications equipment.

Coastguard personnel will also be trained as a part of the programme. They will be trained in areas such as engine repair, small boat repair, basic shipboard maintenance, boat handling and basic tactics.

Gonsalves added that the MOU will also cover assistance to construct a Coastguard Base in Canouan. “This base in Canouan…is going to be very important, because it is vital to maintain safety and security on the seas,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves added that the programme will assist in the strengthening of the country’s Coastguard security system, which already has a radar site that captures a 100 per cent view of the island.

According to Gonsalves, the Canouan base and the vessels supplied by the programme will also assist fishermen in times of distress on the seas.

“I want to emphasize to the fisher folk, that the base in Canouan will help considerably; so too will the two vessels, anytime that they have distress, and for safety and national emergency preparation,” he said.

Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Barbados Brent Hardt, also speaking at the ceremony, stated that the partnership between the countries seeks to address “what is a complex and constantly evolving, transitional security challenge that faces St. Vincent and the rest of the region.”

Hardt expressed gratitude to the Government of SVG, the Police Force and the Coastguard service, stating that they have demonstrated resolve in combating drug trafficking and other instances of crime.

Hardt stated that the programme not only centres on eradicating crime and strengthening security systems, but also includes workforce development training that would facilitate entrance into the workforce, and youth entrepreneurship training.

“I’m pleased to see that we are addressing all aspects of this challenge, not just the law enforcement side, but we want to work with government on the economic and social sides as well,” Hardt said.(OS)