Navy officers seek end to piracy.
With piracy along the coast of Somalia spiralling out of control, a group of navy commanders say the solution lies in restoring law and order in the war-torn country. Lawlessness in the country has made piracy a lucrative venture for many men without any source of income, the commanders say.
Further, it would take more than just the big guns of an international naval force currently scouring the Indian Ocean waters to rein in the pirates, the commanders added. Lately, the pirates have made millions of dollars in ransom for seized cargo ships in the Indian Ocean waters.
The comments were made at a press conference aboard a US Navy ship, HSV-2 Swift. Another warship, the USS Nicholas, is also in Mombasa, where navy commanders from Kenya, the US, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Comoros, and Namibia met.
The meeting was part of an international security cooperation initiative known as the Africa Partnership Station which brings together American, European, and African naval forces.
Law and order
?Until the situation in Somali improves, there is little to be optimistic about in terms of eradicating piracy in the region,? said US commander Mark Fitzgerald.
His sentiments were shared by his Kenyan colleague S.J. Mwathethe, who said the breakdown of law and order in the Horn of Africa country has fuelled piracy and that it must be contained.
Tanzanian commander Said Shaaban Omar said criminals had taken advantage of the volatile situation in Somalia to make a killing out of hijacking ships and demanding ransom.
He said a military solution to the piracy menace was not a workable option as the pirates usually pose as fishermen and only strike when the coast was clear of patrols.
The APS is a partnership through which selected African nations have teamed up with the US Navy for training in various aspects of naval warfare including sea craft boardings, fire fighting, and use of small arms.
The docking of the two US Navy ships came in the wake of the capture of a fishing boat with 10 Kenyans and other nationals by Somali pirates.
According to Mr Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme, the vessel was hijacked last week between the Kenyan and the Tanzanian coast.