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International Efforts to Combat Piracy have Yielded Good Results

25.01.2010 10:57

A.Novik

An account of new merchant vessels hijacking by pirates off the Coast of Somalia was opened, which indicates the urgency of the problem of protecting ships from pirates in 2010 as well.

On the first day of 2010 in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia pirates captured an Indonesian chemical tanker Pramoni bearing the flag of Singapore. The shipboard crew numbers 24 - 17 Indonesians, five Chinese and one citizen of Nigeria and one of Vietnam.

On 2 January Somali pirates seized the British-flagged ship Asian Glory (automobile carrier), the crew of which consists of 10 citizens of Ukraine, 8 citizens of Bulgaria, 5 citizens of India and two Romanian citizens. On board the vessel there are 2,405 Korean-made cars. The ship was heading for Saudi Arabia.

Currently, Somali pirates hold in captivity at least 12 vessels, where there are about 270 sailors from different countries.

The most complicated situation is for the tunaboat seized by pirates more than three months ago ? on October 29, 2009. The owner is a Singaporean company; the ship sails under the flag of Thailand. The crew consists of 23 Russians from Kaliningrad. According to an agent of the owner?s company, ?The pirates stopped the negotiations; the situation with the vessel is regarded as a dead-end". He also recalled that in December last year, ?The pirates demanded the release of their five accomplices, seized earlier by the Russian military, and to all appearance do not want to retreat from their demands so far.? However, there is one consolation that according to the captain of the tunaboat, the situation on board is normal, all crew members are healthy; food and water are available for the crew.

According to the latest report of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the issue of piracy off the Somali coast, from January 1 to September 30, 2009 off the east coast of the African continent, 160 incidents of piracy occurred, which significantly exceeds the number of incidents during the same period of 2008. As evidenced by the facts, the seizure of ships by pirates continues in the coming year. The most important reason for this is anarchy in Somalia, which since 1991 with the fall of the dictatorial regime of S. Barre, has ceased to exist as a unified state.

At the present time the international community recognizes only the Federal Government of the Republic as a legitimate authority in Somalia. However, this government controls only part of the capital city of Mogadishu. The remaining parts of Somalia are under the control of unrecognized state entities, or are self-governing territories, whose leadership has different, sometimes opposing views on unification under the authority of the Federal Government. For example, the areas of the south and north-east Somalia are ruled by local clans and radical Islamist movements, in the north-west since 1991, there has been an unrecognized republic of Somaliland.

Given the political situation in Somalia one can assume that the problem of piracy off its coast will remain in 2010. This circumstance causes the urgency of the problem of protecting merchant ships from Somali pirates in the coming year as well.

In this regard, one can assume that patrols off the east coast of Africa of warships of the EU, NATO within the Atlanta, Sea Shield operations, by countries such as the USA, Russia, China, Iran, will not only continue in the new year but will be also strengthened, as international efforts in this direction in 2009 yielded good results ? with an increase in incidents with pirates the number of vessels hijackings decreased.