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UN Secretary-General acknowledges call for Somalia piracy action

UN Secretary-General acknowledges call for Somalia piracy action

Two United Nations agency chiefs Wednesday made a joint call for international action to combat piracy and armed attacks against ships in waters off the coast of Somalia that is threatening the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the troubled East African country.

   So far this year there have been 15 attacks on vessels in or near Somali waters. Two of these attacks involved ships contracted by the UN World Food Program (WFP), and in one of those incidents a security guard was killed.

   “Close to 80 percent of WFP’s assistance to Somalia is shipped by sea but, because of piracy, we have seen the availability of ships willing to carry food to the country cut by half,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Much more has to be done to address this problem of piracy and, at WFP, we are much encouraged by the actions that IMO has taken recently for that purpose.”

   The International Maritime Organization Council has recently called again on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to bring the situation to the attention of the UN Security Council, so that, in turn, the Security Council requests the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to take appropriate action. The IMO said that such action could include giving consent to ships — as defined in Article 107 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — to enter the country’s territorial waters when engaging in operations against pirates or suspected pirates and armed robbers endangering the safety of life at sea.

   “The continuing incidence of acts of piracy and armed robbery in these waters is of great concern,” said IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos. “In conjunction with other multifaceted initiatives recently taken by IMO to address the issue effectively, this latest high-level approach to the Security Council, through Mr. Ban, will, I believe, help considerably in alleviating the situation, especially if support and assistance to ships is enhanced; and if Administrations and the shipping industry implement effectively the guidance that IMO has issued and the notices promulgated regularly by naval operations’ centers.”

   UN Secretary General Ban welcomed the IMO's recent action, and stated his intention to raise the matter with members of the UN Security Council on his return to New York.

   “We would like to see a more coordinated and robust approach to dealing with the problem of piracy, from the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, from neighboring countries that have influence, and from the African Union,' Sheeran said.

   “WFP is grateful for the continuing presence in the seas off Somalia of naval forces from several nations. They have been helpful on occasion in the past and they offer a potential deterrence to pirates. But we need to explore how these resources can be brought more heavily into play to protect shipping and, thereby, the delivery by sea of life-saving humanitarian assistance.”

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