An anti-piracy group held its first meeting at the United Nations to coordinate state and industry actions to combat Somali gangs operating in the Gulf of Aden.
An anti-piracy group held its first meeting at the United Nations to coordinate state and industry actions to combat Somali gangs operating in the Gulf of Aden and waters near the Horn of Africa. The meeting in New York of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was chaired by Mark T. Kimmitt, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, and follows a UN resolution last month authorizing ?all necessary measures? to deter piracy.
Pirates attacked about 125 ships last year off Somalia"s east coast and in the Gulf of Aden sailing to and from Egypt"s Suez Canal, a route used by 20,000 ships a year carrying a 10th of world trade. About 45 vessels were seized.
Attacks have pushed shipping insurance premiums along the route to ?near-prohibitive levels? and damaged ?littoral economies? by forcing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, the group said in a statement.
The attacks prompted the European Union, NATO, the U.S., China, India, Russia and France to dispatch warships to the pirate-infested area, which is three times the size of Texas.
Yesterday"s meeting set up teams to organize better operational and information support for counter-piracy operations, stronger laws to arrest, prosecute and detain pirates and to track financial flows related to piracy.
The contact group, comprising 24 nations and five multilateral organizations, will meet again in March to review progress and consider taking in new members.
The group, in its statement, noted ?the primary role of Somalia itself in rooting out piracy and armed robbery at sea and the importance of assisting Somalia in strengthening its own operational capacity to fight piracy.?
Somalia hasn"t had a functioning central government since the 1991 fall of the Siad Barre regime. Its internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government, which is fighting an insurgency and controls just a few neighborhoods in the capital, Mogadishu, has approved foreign action against pirates.
The U.S. is asking the UN Security Council to establish a peacekeeping mission in Somalia by June 1. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month rejected the American proposal, saying there weren"t enough troops available to deploy in the country.