30 million dollars in ransom in 2008 alone
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Somali pirates have received 30 million dollars in ransom this year alone.
There has been a surge in piracy in 2008 - the latest being the hijacking of a Saudi supertanker, carrying about 100 million dollars worth of crude oil, on Saturday.
Ban called for a 'pragmatic and effective' way to end piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia as it has weakened the transitional government and authorities in the autonomous Puntland areas in north Somalia.
Citing a report on the security situation in Somalia, Ban said that since January 2008, a total of 65 merchant ships with about 200 crew members each, have been hijacked off the Somali coast.
The pirates received between 25 million dollars to 30 million dollars in ransom, he said, without specifying which shipowners paid the money.
He said the Somali government had not been effective in stopping the pirates.
In a separate statement issued Wednesday, Ban voiced concern about the hijacking of ships and reiterated his condemnation of the practice.
'I strongly support efforts by member states to address this scourge and am working closely with the transitional federal government of Somalia, the International Maritime Organization, NATO and the European Union and other member states to ensure a coordinated international effort to fight piracy,' Ban said.
He welcomed the EU's decision to deploy naval ships to the Somali coast.
Despite escorts provided, the incidence of piracy has increased
The UN Security Council had authorized states to use force to end acts of piracy and armed robbery by Somali pirates. Despite escorts provided by navies from Canada, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and NATO, the incidence of piracy has increased.
Ban said in his report that the security situation in Somalia has deteriorated, particularly in the south-central regions of the country, posing an 'immense challenge' to efforts at reconciliation among the parties and also to the delivery of relief aid and stability of the region.