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HomeNEWS AND MEDIA2010Warsaw, 16 November 2010 - WESTERN NAVIES COULD DO MORE TO ADDRESS PIRACY IN SOMALIA, EXPERT SAYS

Warsaw, 16 November 2010 - WESTERN NAVIES COULD DO MORE TO ADDRESS PIRACY IN SOMALIA, EXPERT SAYS

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With piracy taking an annual toll of tens of millions of dollars in the Gulf of Aden, development and security experts alike are taking a closer look at the complex issues underlying the cause of the problem in Somalia. Dr EJ Hogendoorn says the international community would benefit from a deeper understanding of the political context from which piracy emerges, and could do more to support the regionís efforts to address the problem on land.

Simply patrolling at sea and escorting freighters was not effective, said the International Crisis Group’s specialist on the Horn of Africa. “Operation Atalanta has been going for three years now, and to be frank, the result has been next to nil.” The maritime mission “has not reduced the number of hijackings, it has just increased the number of foiled attacks,” he said.

The international community, including NATO, could incentivize the authorities in Puntland, the eastern part of the country where most of the pirates are based, to move against the pirates in their land bases, he told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 56th session, gathered in Warsaw November 12-16.

This could be done firstly by offering them practical assistance in the area under their political control, such as more training of local forces. Current efforts by the European Union are excessively focused on the centralized forces, he said. Improving administration and security throughout the area would give its authorities a vested interest in curbing piracy to preserve stability.

By way of comparison, the relatively stable area of Somaliland in the west of the country had a much lower rate of piracy, Dr Hogendoorn said, as the authorities there felt it was in their interests to apply the rule of law vigorously to maintain international support. The same could apply to the currently unstable eastern region of Puntland, he said.

In addition, enforcing the 1992 United Nations arms embargo more rigorously on the southern port of Kismayo would deprive the terrorist groups that control the area of guns and revenue, Dr Hogendoorn said. Such an action would also drive trade north to ports in the more secure areas, further stabilizing that part of the country, he added.

The international community could envisage using deployed EU and NATO vessels to stop and search boats approaching the port, currently controlled by al-Shabaab, an extremist outfit with links to al-Qaeda. “But the political will is lacking” to extend the Alliance ’s remit he said, other legal obstacles to such an initiative notwithstanding.

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