UN maritime agency pledges support to repress piracy off Somali coast

2 November 2009

The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has pledged that his agency will help Somalia repress piracy off its coast and in the Gulf of Aden, including through assisting in the creation of a national coast guard.

The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has pledged that his agency will help Somalia repress piracy off its coast and in the Gulf of Aden, including through assisting in the creation of a national coast guard.

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos discussed the issue with the Prime Minister of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, during their meeting last week in London, where the agency is based.

The past year has witnessed an upsurge in piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation, which has been riven by factional fighting and had not had a functioning central government since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991.

In January, Indian Ocean and Red Sea countries pledged to cooperate in seizing, investigating and prosecuting pirates off the Somali coast in a stepped-up campaign to curb a scourge that has wrought havoc with international shipping, including UN delivery of emergency food aid.

The code of conduct, signed in Djibouti, calls for shared operations, such as nominating law enforcement or other authorized officials to embark in the patrol ships or aircraft of another signatory.

Mr. Mitropoulos emphasized the importance of putting the code of conduct – of which Somalia is a signatory – into effect.

The Prime Minister said that piracy off his country’s coast needed to be tackled from the land side as well as from the sea, and requested help to halt attacks from the two main piracy networks (one in the central region of Somalia and one in Puntland) through the establishment of information-sharing centres.

He also stated that the country is reviewing its national legislation to ensure that pirates are prosecuted within Somalia, and requested the IMO’s help in this regard.

Mr. Mitropoulos said that the IMO, in cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will provide the requested assistance. In addition, it will, through its technical cooperation programme and assistance from Member States, help Somalia to establish a national coast guard.

 

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