UN admits ownership of weapons on ship detained at Mombasa port

Documents seen by The Standard now show that the United Nation’s logistics office authorised inclusion of the weapons, packed alongside 34 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), and two ambulances aboard the Norwegian-flagged Hoegh transporter ship detained at Mombasa port since Thursday last week.

The UN says in a letter dated September 15 that ferrying of armaments in the cargo was authorised as the guns were components of the APCs but which had been dismounted “for safe custody” in order to prevent damage “during the journey.”

Thursday evening, the UN’s Nairobi office admitted that the weapons belonged to the organisation and that they were “part of legitimate and declared contingent owner equipment cargo packed in Mumbai, India and headed for the Indian Battalion of Monusco, DRC.

The UN said the weapons were declared in the bill of lading but not on the manifest.

Further, the organisation said it is normal practice for weapons attached to the APCs to be dismantled and placed inside the carriers in order to avoid damage while being shipped and faulted Kenya for inspecting the cargo “without a UN presence which runs contrary to established protocol and provisions surrounding privileges and immunities”.

The UN said it has co-operated fully with the Kenyan authorities in the course of investigation.

Led to stalemate

In the September 15 letter, the UN declares that there were no explosives, missiles or ammunition on board and that the ambulances did not have any armaments.

The UN further says any anti-tank missile launcher found on board was an integrated part of the APCs.

But the documents also show that UN did not include the armaments on the manifest sent to port authorities in Mombasa.

This omission appears to have led to the stalemate and detention of the vessel on arrival at Mombasa port. Reports show the Kenyans were alerted about the presence of the weaponry by an unnamed foreign nation.

On Wednesday, Hoegh Autoliners, the company that owns the ship worth KSh82 billion, said the United Nations should be held responsible for the weapons.

30mm cannons

The company said in a statement on its website last that “these weapons belong to the UN vehicles in which they were found” and added that the vehicles were to be used for the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 The document by the UN logistics office lists that besides the APCs were 34 7.62mm PKT and 30mm cannons and indicates the certificate disclosing this information was issued on request of a New York-based agency that was arranging transportation of the cargo to Mombasa.

Says the document in part: “This is to certify that the armoured personnel carriers (BMP) as mentioned on the list attached to this certificate are being shipped from India to Congo for deployment under the UN Mission Monusco by Global Cargo Ltd, New York.”

Monusco is acronym for the United Nation Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.