The Philippine president offered her country's help in training the Somali coast guard, saying Tuesday she fears another surge in pirate attacks off Somalia.
The Philippine president offered her country's help in training the Somali coast guard, saying Tuesday she fears another surge in pirate attacks off Somalia that have targeted ships with hundreds of Filipino crew. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was attending the African Union summit in Libya, expressed fear that pirate attacks will pick up as the East African monsoon was about to end.
"This is one issue where it is crucial for Africa to work together to bring peace and order in the affected areas off the coast of Somalia," she said in a speech to Filipino workers in Libya, a copy of which was released in Manila.
The Philippines supplies about 30 percent of the world's 1.2 million merchant sailors, and 42 Filipino seafarers remain in the hands of Somali pirates. Another 347 have been freed by pirates since 2006, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
In her meeting with Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed on the sidelines of the summit, Arroyo said the Philippines has expertise in human resources development and offered to help train Somalia's coast guard and government officials.
She said the building of strong institutions was one way to help Somalia fight piracy.
Piracy has increased in the Gulf of Aden ? a crucial shipping route in and out of the Suez Canal ? and elsewhere off the coast of Somalia. Attacks have more than doubled in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period a year ago, the International Maritime Bureau said.
Out of 240 pirate attacks worldwide, 130 took place off Somalia, it said.
Somalia has had no effective central government since 1991, and the country's interim government has been embroiled in a struggle with Islamist extremists with suspected al-Qaida links.