Cape Verde in talks with China for donation of patrol boats

20 September 2006

Cidade da Praia, Cape Verde, 20 Sept – Cape Verde is negotiating with China over the donation of patrol vessels for the islands’ coastguard, the head of Praia’s armed forces has said.

Speaking on return from a recent trip to China, Antero Matos said the boats being sought by Cape Verde are for patrols and search and rescue operations.

Cape Verde’s military chief did not give any details on the state of negotiations with Beijing for the possible donation of the patrol boats, nor did he give any timetable for the conclusion of the talks.

He said the current patrol boats being used by the coastguard, acquired from China five years ago, “are not very appropriate Cape Verde’s specific requirements.”

The West African archipelago also hopes to obtain electronic surveillance equipment, such as radar, from China – one of its main cooperation partners, he said.

Cape Verde currently has problems in policing the waters of its large exclusive economic zone, which are used by illegal migrants from Africa attempting to reach Europe. Illicit fishing and drugs trafficking also blight the archipelago’s territorial waters.

Praia has been approached this year by the European Union and some of its member states, particularly Spain, with offers of naval resources and assistance to control its maritime borders.

Official Praia statistics reveal that Cape Verde currently receives up to 6,000 legal migrants from West Africa per year. Thousands more are estimated to be coming to the islands illegally. (macauhub)