Red Sea Project

February 2021 - November 2026


Strategically connecting Europe and Asia, the Red Sea stretches from the Suez Canal through the Bab el Mandeb Strait to the Gulf of Aden. Its waters constitute one of the most critical maritime routes enabling global trade, and present immense opportunities for development and prosperity in the  region.

However, increasing regional instability, conflict, piracy and transnational organized crime endanger the freedom of navigation of vessels transiting through those waters and limit investment into port infrastructure and maritime commerce. 

To address those challenges, the Regional Programme for Maritime Security in the Red Sea Area, funded by the European Union, was launched in February 2021. Under this programme, IMO is engaged in coordinated actions with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in support of participating countries, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. The programme aims to develop capacities and promote adequate security and safety standards for maritime, port and land-based law-enforcement authorities, regional dialogue at the operational-level based on sound maritime domain awareness (MDA), in line with the objectives of the 2050 Africa's Integrated Maritime Strategy.

IMO's Result Area

Maritime and port security are essential for safeguarding global trade, protecting personnel and assets, preventing terrorism and smuggling, and preserving the marine environment.

IMO's result area aims at enhancing port security and safety of navigation in the region, following tailored action plans to strengthen maritime security both at the operational and strategic level, working closely with a very engaged network of regional stakeholders including the Maritime Administrations of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

 At the operational level, IMO's work is focusing on the implementation of the functional requirements of the ISPS Code for port facilities, such as assistance in conducting PFSA, development of PFSP which should normally include the identified maritime security threats, PFSO training, PPSD, drills and exercises.

At the strategic level, IMO is focusing on strengthening the national legal framework related to IMO instruments dealing with maritime security. Particular emphasis is on the legislative drafting process to support domestication of SOLAS Chapter XI-2 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, including control and compliance measures.

As the response to national maritime security risks has to be multi-faceted, and it has to be coherent and integrated, we also offer support to create a "whole of government approach" to maritime security drawing together civilians and military government organizations to discuss national security strengths and weaknesses, overlaps and gaps through the maritime security committee. We also offer support in developing National Maritime Security Strategy, based on a whole of  government approach empowers the member states, through good governance, to fully own their security needs.

Project Countries

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Workshops and events

Workshops and targeted expert support delivered by IMO to date and planned include those covering:

  • Putting in place a legal framework that gives full and complete effect to IMO instruments dealing with maritime security.
  • Updating knowledge required to perform duties in accordance with key IMO safety and security instruments: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); chapter XI-2, the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code; the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code; and the IMO/ILO Code of Practice on Security in Ports.
  • Training representatives of the Designated Authority and port facility security officers on how to conduct a port facility security assessment (PFSA) and develop port facility security plans.
  • Building a whole of government approach to maritime security, bringing stakeholders together to highlight the importance of multi-agency collaboration and active participation and engagement of all stakeholders for the effective application of maritime security measures. 

See news section for latest training activities held.

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