India gets nod to enter Somalian waters as world unites to fight piracy (Roundup)November 21st, 2008 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Washington/United Nations, Nov 21 (IANS) With India actively thwarting piracy bids in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia has given permission to the Indian Navy to enter its territorial waters to “suppress” marauding sea bandits, even as world opinion veered towards a “collaborative” arrangement in the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.Working towards its option of regional and global cooperation to check piracy, India has also entered into dialogue with the littoral states in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), for whom the Gulf of Aden is a vital route for energy supply, an Indian Navy official said in New Delhi.
Expressive grave concern on the escalating incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) also urged for a “coordinated and cohesive response at the international level was necessary for the safety and well-being of seafarers and for seamless delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia.”
New Delhi received a letter from the Somali government intimating its decision Nov 19, a day after Indian Navy’s stealth frigate INS Tabar checkmated Somali pirates and sank one of their vessels and forced abandonment of another in the piracy infested Gulf of Aden.
“We had put up a request before the Somali government to play a greater role in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Aden in view of the United Nations resolution. The TFG government gave its nod recently,” the official added.
The official denied published reports that the Indian Navy had been given the mandate for “hot pursuit” of pirates in Somali waters as it poses a threat to the vital energy supply route for India.
Meanwhile, India has also initiated talks with countries of the IOR for a “collaborative” arrangement to combat the rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the official said.
The Gulf of Aden is vital for the trade and economy of India and the IOR countries as it provides access to the Suez Canal through which ships transit between Europe and Asia without having to take the longer and more expensive route around the southern tip. It is a crucially important route for oil tankers.
Taking off from India’s call for a multilateral force under the auspices of the United Nations to patrol the Gulf of Aden, the US described the piracy situation in the region as “serious issue”, which the Washington cannot tackle alone.
“So we’re trying to, as a government, working with other governments, get a handle on this. It’s a serious issue. It’s not going to be something the United States solves alone,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday in Washington.
The US-led Combined Task Force-150, of which Pakistan is also a part, has been operating in the region. However according to an official of the India’s foreign ministry, New Delhi has not agreed to be a part of any grouping working sans UN mandate.
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting of the Security Council on Somalia Thursday, IMO Secretary General Efthmios Mitropoulos sought a “coordinated and cohesive response” at the international level for the safety and well-being of seafarers and for seamless delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia.
Mitropoulos said the IMO is also worried about the ferocity of the attacks and the risk they pose to seafarers and the marine environment.
Since the IMO started compiling data, some 440 acts of piracy and armed robbery has taken place off the coast of Somalia, of which 120 have been reported this year. As of now more than a dozen ships and 280 seafarers are being held hostage in Somalia by these pirates. In all, as many as 35 ships have been seized this year and more than 600 seafarers have been kidnapped for ransom, he said.
Many of them are Indian for which several million dollars have reportedly been paid as ransom - a development that forced the Indian government to send its warships to the region.