Local authorities in Yemen’s Hadramout have deployed dozens of newly-trained coastguards to boost security off the province’s coast. The soldiers were trained in intercepting smugglers, fighting off terrorist attacks. Image Credit: Ali Bamasoud

Al Mukalla: Local authorities in Yemen’s Hadramout have deployed dozens of newly-trained coast guard personnel to boost security off the province’s coastline amid non-stop influx of African immigrants.

The coast guard soldiers were trained by Emirati and Yemeni officers at a military installation in Al Mukalla, Mohammad Baesa, the chief of Hadramout’s Coastguard, told Gulf News on Tuesday. For 40 days, the soldiers were trained in intercepting smugglers, fighting off terrorist attacks and using the state-of-the-art navigation system.

Baesa said this first batch consists of 135 soldiers and they are now receiving new applicants who wanted to take part in another training camp. “We have a long coastline and we are in need of more coast guard personnel and bigger boats to protect the province,” he said.

On October 15, the newly-trained guards celebrated their graduation ceremony attended by UAE officers in Hadramout and local officials. The soldiers paraded their skills in driving small fast cruisers and firing arms. “The UAE has trained and armed those soldiers and equipped them with modern navigation gadgets.” Baesa said.

The country’s coast guard authority branch in Hadramout collapsed in April 2015 when hundreds of Al Qaida militants stormed the city of Al Mukalla and neighbouring coastal regions. The militants were pushed out of the cities a year later in the wake of a major offensive by thousands of coalition-backed forces. To help restore peace and security in liberated cities, the UAE has trained thousands of army soldiers and policemen and provided them with vehicles and arms.

Baesa said the new batch of coast guards would bolster security by responding quickly to any illegal activities. “They would combat human and drug trafficking and illegal foreign commercial fishing ships and even prevent destructive fishing practices by local fishermen,” he said, adding that the coalition is establishing two radar stations on the Arabian Sea to help the Yemeni coast guards locate illegal boats.

In the southern province of Shabwa, hundreds of local tribesmen safeguarding the giant Balhaf gas terminal have left their positions to join UAE military camps in the province of Hadramout.

The tribesmen would be subjected to rigorous military training courses as to be qualified to join the country’s armed forces. The country’s largest industrial project was vulnerable to looting or falling to Al Qaida when thousands of army troops loyal to the ousted president switched sides and backed Al Houthis. Local armed tribes filled in the security vacuum and deployed their men around the installation when the soldiers fled the province.