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UN envoy for Somalia calls for coordinated strategy against maritime piracy

UN envoy for Somalia calls for coordinated strategy against maritime piracy

Somali piracy suspects transported to trial in Nairobi, Kenya
The United Nations envoy for Somalia today called for a coordinated political, military and development strategy to combat the scourge of piracy off the Horn of African country’s coastline, saying ad hoc measures to tackle the problem are unlikely to succeed.

“I would say the work of the CG [International Contact Group on Somalia – ICG] on piracy, the TFG’s [Transitional Federal Government] own piracy task force, military action and development in security and humanitarian sectors all be woven into the overall construct of a solution for Somalia as a whole,” said Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, addressing the contact group meeting in Madrid.

He said all measures against piracy must be aligned with the Djibouti peace agreement, a process designed to restore peace and stability in Somalia through the reestablishment of State institutions in the country, which has been without a fully functional government since 1991 and has been ravaged by factional warfare.

“The international community’s desire to end the scourge of piracy, supported by the TFG must be delivered as part of, and not independent from, a package of balanced measures that contribute to the political stability of Somalia,” Mr. Mahiga said.

He said the international anti-piracy task force that has deployed a fleet of warships in a bid to prevent piracy in the Indian Ocean must support and complement Somalia’s the overall security arrangement.

“The various naval task forces need to take cognizance of the Somali political environment and their work to engage with Somali administrations needs to contribute to the wider work done in the political field and development work by agencies such as UNODC [UN Office on Drugs and Crime] and UNDP [UN Development Programme],” said Mr. Mahiga.

“Maritime operations need to be also coordinated with land operations by AMISOM [African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Somalia] and national security forces. Proposed maritime operations by the AU and IGAD [the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development] off the coast of Somalia and its key ports need to be coordinated and de-conflicted with activity by coalition naval forces,” he added.

He pointed out that programmes to rehabilitate areas affected by piracy to provide alternative economic opportunities to those engaging in piracy are key to a long-term solution to the problem.

“Balance and coordination is required between programmes, and maximum advantage made to promote development in the coastal region to re-establish traditional economic, industrial and agricultural activity and to offer alternative livelihoods to those currently engaged in piracy and piracy support activity,” Mr. Mahiga said.

At the end of the ICG meeting, delegates thanked countries that have sent their naval forces to deter acts on piracy in the Indian Ocean and those States that have agreed to receive suspected pirates captured at sea for prosecution.

“The issue of maritime security off the coast of Somalia was highlighted not just of piracy but trafficking, the movement of arms and human trafficking,” they said in the final communiqué.

The delegates also urged the TFG to urgently develop a roadmap that outlines the management of the remaining transition period within two months.

“This roadmap should reflect a prioritized comprehensive strategy with political objectives and timelines, supported by security activities, as well as reconstruction and development priorities including a budget for the remaining period,” the ICG communiqué stated.

It said the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) should coordinate the international support to the TFG strategy, including developing an action plan as soon as possible.

“The Group agreed that UNPOS should revitalize the existing coordination mechanisms such as the High Level Committee (HLC) to lead the coordination and monitoring of the peace process. This roadmap will be funded through existing programmes, funds or through a designated trust fund for the implementation of the defined priority tasks,” it added.

The ICG meeting was attended by representatives from Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Burundi, Canada, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Yemen, the African Union, the European Union, IGAD, the League of Arab States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the World Bank, and the UN.