Warships to combat Somalia piracy

UN adopts resolution allowing foreign military vessels to enter Somali waters.

    The waters off Somalia are considered the most dangerous in the world [File: EPA]
    Jakarta had raised concerns that measures adopted to tackle piracy off the Somali coast should not set a precedent for international intervention in its own piracy-prone waters.

    Piracy problem

    "The issue of piracy is beyond our present means and capabilities," said Abdullahi Yusuf, the Somali president, in a speech to council envoys in Djibouti prior to the vote in New York.

    "The issue of piracy is beyond our present
    means and capabilities"


    Abdullahi Yusuf, Somalia's president

    The waters off Somalia - which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years - are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world.

    Dozens of ships, mainly merchant vessels, have been hijacked for ransom off the Somali coast over the past year.

    Somalia juts out into the Indian Ocean and commands access to the Red Sea, a key global trade route used by thousands of ships each year.

    The resolution gives a six-month mandate to states co-operating with the interim government in fighting piracy to "enter the territorial waters of Somalia for the purposes of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea".

    Co-ordinated effort

    It also urges states whose naval vessels and military aircraft operate on the high seas and in airspace off the coast of Somalia "to increase and co-ordinate their efforts ... in co-operation with the TFG [transitional federal government]".

    According to Alejandro Wolff, a US envoy, the French had "wanted to highlight the scourge of piracy as a global problem". 
         
    However, the resolution affirmed that authorisation for action "applies only with respect to the situation in Somalia," and should "not be considered as establishing customary international law..."

    It was originally sponsored by France, the US, Britain and Panama, under whose flag many merchant ships sail.

    Twelve other concerned countries that are not on the council later signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution, including Japan, South Korea and Spain.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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