Operation to fight piracy a success

Tuesday December 1 2009

By LUCAS BARASA

The military operation targeting piracy off the Somali coast has been termed a success.

There has been no hijacking of vessels in the Gulf of Aden since July, the European Union Naval operation commander Peter Hudson said Tuesday

The operation is meant to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Coast of Somalia.

Addressing journalists at Cafe Des Arts in Nairobi, Mr Hudson said 75 pirates arrested by his forces were waiting for prosecution in Kenya adding that the country has been hugely supportive of the EU efforts.

Mr Hudson said more than 50 ships and 300,000 tones of food has been escorted the EU Naval Force since the operation started.

“We are working with shipping agencies to identify high value cargo and give advice on shipping routes. We have been deterring or disrupting pirates activities in the high seas,” the commander said.

He said there have been no causality of the EU forces.

Mr Hudson, however, said long term solution to the piracy could only be found if instability in Somalia is ended.

“Safeguarding long term solution to Somalia will reduce piracy,” Mr Hudson said.

The EU naval is further giving assistance to African Union forces in Somalia, Mr Hudson said.

The mandate of the EU forces is to protect vessels of the World Food Programme delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia and those sailing in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

The soldiers are further mandated to employ necessary measures, including the use of force, to deter, prevent and intervene to end acts of piracy and armed robbery which may be committed in the areas where they are present.

Mr Hudson who commands the operation from Northwood in the United Kingdom said although it was to scheduled for an initial 12 months, it has been extended until December 2010.

The military personnel involved in the operation can arrest, detain and transfer persons who have committed acts of piracy or armed robberies in the areas where they are.

They can seize the vessels of the pirates or the vessels captured following an act of piracy or an armed robbery and which are in the hands of the pirates, as well as the goods on board.

The suspects can be prosecuted by an EU member state or by Kenya under the agreement signed with the EU on March 6, 2009 giving the Kenyan authorities the right to prosecute.

The European naval force operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and part of the Indian Ocean, which now includes the Seychelles.

A statement from the European naval force said since the escorts began in late 2007, not a single ship carrying World Food Programme food to ports in Somalia has been attacked by pirates.

Each merchant vessel wishing to transit through the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia is usually requested to register in advance on the website of the Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa which was set up at the beginning of the operation to facilitate coordination of maritime traffic.