UN authorises more measures to fight Somali pirates

December 17th, 2008 - 5:51 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Dec 17 (DPA) The UN Security Council Tuesday adopted its third resolution of the year authorising states to take enhanced and “robust action”, and coordinate to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia.It called for an “international cooperation mechanism to act as a common point between and among states, regional and international organisations” to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast.

Since it adopted the first resolution earlier this year, pirates have seized more and larger ships, including a Saudi tanker with an oil shipment worth an estimated $100 million and a Ukrainian ship with a cargo of weapons and ammunition worth $20 million.

The UN said the pirates have reportedly received $30 million in ransom. Dozens of ships have been hijacked, but the correct number cannot be confirmed by agencies, including the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Several government ministers attended Tuesday’s meeting, unlike in previous sessions.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the council to address the roots of the problems in Somalia, including the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation. She urged cooperation with the transitional government in Mogadishu to stabilise the internal political crisis.

“Piracy is a symptom of instability and lawlessness that affects Somalia in the past two decades,” Rice said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the council that piracy has become a “serious threat to security in the area, to seafarers, ships and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia”.

“Piracy is just the tip of the iceberg of problems facing Somalia and it is essential that social and economic solutions should be found to stabilise that country,” Lavrov said.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei concurred with Lavrov, calling for socio-economic solutions to help Somalia.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said his government supported the call for robust action to fight piracy.

The IMO said last month that some 14 ships and 280 seafarers were being held hostage in Somalia. But it also reported that 35 ships had been hijacked and 600 seafarers have been kidnapped and held for ransom, without specifying the locations.

In November, IMO official Ephthimios Mitropoulos gave the UN Security Council an overview of the current situation off the coast of Somalia, saying that more than 120 attacks had been reported in 2008 alone, resulting in 35 ships being hijacked.

The council in the summer had authorized use of force to stop piracy. Tuesday’s resolution urged governments and international organisations that have the capacity to take part “actively in the right against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast”.

It said governments and regional groups should work out special agreements with countries willing to take custody of pirates and involve law enforcement officials in the anti-piracy fight.

Some NATO countries, Russia and India have been involved in the fight against piracy.

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