Trolling some of the world's wildest waterways, Yemen's nascent Coast Guard really has its work cut out for it.Not surprisingly, the issues faced are hampered by lack of money and personnel.
First, there are the gunrunners. Then there are the immigrant smugglers, the drug traffickers, the illegal fishers, and the Somali pirates, not to mention any potential terrorists. Some sights are truly strange.
Maj. Shugaa al-Maadi, the Coast Guard's operations officer, recalls several dhows stuffed with illegal immigrants crossing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden from Africa.
"They tried to hide the illegal immigrants in hiding places in the boats and store them with cattle or sheep," he says. "The smells of the animals cover the smells of the people."
The Coast Guard's reach, however, is still very limited. The two-year-old force has only about 1,000 people and 40 boats to cover some 1,500 miles of Yemen's coastline. (The U.S. Coast Guard has about 36,000 in uniform; the lower 48 states have 6,000 miles of coastline.)
Sunday, March 05, 2006