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UN To Convene Global Meeting On Piracy Off Somalia

UN To Convene Global Meeting On Piracy Off Somali Coast

The United Nations will convene a two-day international conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia, it was announced today.

The gathering, hosted by the Kenyan Government, will begin on 10 December, when technical experts will discuss the issue.

The following day, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, and Moses Wetangula, Kenya's Foreign Minister, will chair a ministerial-level meeting.

Some 140 representatives from 40 countries are expected to attend the event, which will be addressed by President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.

"It is clear that the problem of piracy is linked to the need for peace and stability in Somalia itself," said Mr. Ould-Abdallah. "We hope that this high-level Conference will lead to greater international attention and cooperation between countries, regional and international organizations."

He said the gathering is very important and timely given the increasing threat of piracy in Somali waters which threatens the safety of trade routes.

The Conference comes the same week as the European Union's Operation Atalanta, an anti-piracy task force seeking to protect merchant ships from pirate attacks, off of Somalia gets underway.

Last week, the Security Council called on all countries and regional organizations with the necessary capacity to deploy naval ships and military aircraft off the Somali coast to fight piracy which is impeding UN efforts to feed millions of hungry civilians in the strife-torn country.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report within three months on ways to ensure long-term security off the coast of Somalia, notably for UN World Food Programme (WFP) deliveries, and on a possible coordination and leadership role for the UN in rallying Member States an
d regional organizations for such a goal.

Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizing the use of force, the 15-member body called for the "seizure and disposition of boats, vessels, arms and other related equipment" used or suspected of being used for piracy, which has recently reached a peak off the coast of the Horn of Africa country with the hijacking of a Ukrainian arms ship and a Saudi oil tanker.

ENDS

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