Pirates hijack UN food ship off Somalia

26 February 2007
The MV Rozen

Pirates off the coast of Somalia have hijacked a United Nations-chartered ship with its 12-member crew shortly after it unloaded 1,800 metric tonnes of food aid and equipment - the fourth such attack on UN supply vessels off the East African country in 20 months.

Pirates off the coast of Somalia have hijacked a United Nations-chartered ship with its 12-member crew shortly after it unloaded 1,800 metric tonnes of food aid and equipment - the fourth such attack on UN supply vessels off the East African country in 20 months.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) “is highly concerned about the safety of crew members and the vessel,” Peter Goossens, the agency’s Country Director for Somalia said today of yesterday’s seizure of the MV Rozen. “Such acts of piracy might undermine the delivery of relief food to vulnerable people in Somalia and could further worsen the prevailing precarious humanitarian situation.”

WFP is currently in close contact with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the authorities in Puntland in the north of the country, and with the vessel’s agents, to obtain the most accurate information and to ensure the earliest release of the vessel and crew – six Sri Lankans, including the captain, and six Kenyans.

In 2005, after two earlier hijacks, WFP temporarily had to suspend deliveries of food aid by sea for some weeks, but since then sea deliveries have been uninterrupted, even during the worst days of the conflict between the TFG and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) at the end of last year. The MV Rozen itself escaped an attempted hijack in southern Somali waters last year.

This time the ship had just delivered WFP food and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) equipment in Berbera and in Bossaso in Puntland and was sailing empty back to Mombasa, from where it was chartered when it was hijacked. It is now reported to be anchored off Bargal, in Somali waters.

Pirates hijacked a sister vessel, the MV Semlow, in June 2005 with WFP relief food on board for 28,000 victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and held it for more than 100 days in Somali waters in June 2005. The crew was released unharmed. Another vessel with WFP food aid, the MV Miltzow, was hijacked for 33 hours in October 2005 while it was in the process of unloading food in the port of Merka.

In 2006, WFP delivered some 78,000 metric tonnes of relief food to 1.4 million people affected by drought and floods in southern Somalia.

 

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