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UN Hails EU's Anti-Piracy Force Off Somali Coast

UN envoy hails European Union’s anti-piracy force off Somali coast

13 November 2008 – The top United Nations envoy to Somalia has welcomed the decision by the European Union (EU) to dispatch ships to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa nation’s coast.

The waters off Somalia are considered to the most dangerous in the world, with UN World Food Programme (WFP)-chartered ships carrying humanitarian aid having been frequent targets for ransom-seeking privateers.

“Piracy off the Somali coast is posing a serious threat to the freedom of international navigation and regional security,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

It has resulted in soaring food and fuel prices, which in turn has hurt the region’s poor, he added.

EU foreign ministers agreed on 10 November to dispatch five to seven frigates and support aircraft by next month to protect merchant ships and vessels carrying WFP supplies.

The mission expects to put into place two Security Council resolutions passed in June which allow ships to enter Somali waters to contend with piracy.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has already sent a fleet to protect food shipments to Somalia, with other countries having also sent warships.

There have been more than 80 such attacks so far this year, including 32 hijackings, compared with 31 attacks in 2007, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau. More than 500 crew members have been taken hostage so far this year, and the seizure of a weapons-laden Ukrainian ship made international headlines earlier this year.

ENDS

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