ABU DHABI // The war against Somali piracy must be
fought on two fronts: battling the country's pirates, and
feeding its people.
That was the view of envoys from seven countries whose citizens
have been held by Somali pirates.
The diplomats from Italy, the Seychelles, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,
Kenya, Tanzania and Thailand were in Abu Dhabi yesterday to
discuss ways to end piracy.
They broadly agreed the keys were military action, restoring
law and order, and increasing aid.
"Yes, we must get rid of the bases of pirates to avoid
attacks but the international community cannot rely only on
a military option," said Giorgio Starace, the Italian
Ambassador to the UAE.
"There must be economic and social change linked to
Somalia's recovery. Aid is not only for times of emergency.
We need more engagement."
Somali pirates cost governments and the shipping industry
up to US$6.9 billion (Dh25.35bn) last year, the advocacy group
One Earth Future Foundation says.
The diplomats mapped out a range of measures to cooperate
Pirate attacks and ransom demands are common off Somalia's
coast because of its proximity to the Gulf of Aden, a shipping
route through which 20 per cent of world trade passes.
This week, the European Union Naval Force conducted its first
operation to destroy pirate equipment on the Somali coast,
with the support of the Transitional Federal Government of
Somalia. Until Tuesday, such operations were restricted to
the waters off Somalia.
During yesterday's conference in Abu Dhabi, the ambassadors
said tracing the money trail to find out where ransom funds
were channelled was imperative.
"Somali pirates have become a destructive force because
they have a safe haven," said Mohamed Gello, the Kenyan
Ambassador. "They can attack ships and take these back
toward the shore because the land is available to them.
"You deny them that opportunity and that is the solution
to stop them. The answers lie in maintaining military pressure
to reduce piracy and speed up the process of stability."
Mohamed Juma, the Tanzanian ambassador, said pirate attacks
harmed tourism, with the number of luxury cruise ships falling
from 20 vessels in 2006 to none last year. There have also
been pirate attacks on oil rigs off Tanzania, Mr Juma said.
Tanzania has amended its laws to allow the prosecution on
its soil of pirates captured in international waters. It is
awaiting the UN's Security Council's sanction to launch a
special court for prosecuting arrested pirates.
Law and order must be restored to Somalia, Mr Juma said.
"The Somali youth for 20 years have known nothing more
than disorder. The institution of government must be made
strong," he said.
Piracy also severely hit tourism and fishing in Seychelles,
said Dick Esparon, that country's ambassador. There are now
specially designated fishing zones patrolled by foreign security
guards and Seychelles officers, he said.
Hussein Mohamed, the charge d'affaires of Somalia, said in his speech (click here)
the average citizen there was hurt by food shortages and high
|Mr Mohamed said the families of hostages
should know "the Somali people and its government
are against such unlawful and illegal acts, which endanger
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