DUBAI: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash called upon the international community to support Somalia towards developing the requisite capacity to enforce maritime safety and security within its territorial waters.
Reiterating, in this regard, the UAE’s fresh commitment of $1 million to support Somalia’s cause, he expressed confidence that this important financial vehicle would become a new focal point for funds to be donated towards Somalia’s maritime security capacity development. The donation would be managed by the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, he added.
Expressing concern over the rise of maritime piracy, Thailand Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said a more worrying sign was the economic and human costs involved, adding that the hostages presently in the custody of the pirates were suffering harsher treatment than was the case before.
He stressed the need for enhancement of capacity to allow for greater exchange of information and intelligence, also highlighting the need to cut off the illicit financial flow of piracy syndicates with a view to breaking their network.
He said that Thailand was considering the possibility of providing training for Somalia’s law enforcement agencies in order to prepare them for demanding duties in the future.
The participants of the international conference were unanimous in expressing their concern at the threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia. They also expressed their profound concern at the humanitarian impact of maritime piracy on captured seafarers and their families.
Considering that 185 seafarers remain in captivity and 13 vessels still in the custody of Somali pirates, they recognised that there can be no long-term solution to piracy off the coast of Somalia without a regional and global solution addressing the root causes of the problem.
To achieve progress in the daunting task at hand, participants called for further financial commitments to counter maritime piracy.
Faris Al Mazroui, UAE’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Security and Military Affairs, said the international meet was expected to generate $4-$5 million for the fund, though the final figure was not available immediately.
He said that the UAE’s financial contribution of $1 million would comprehensively support the development of the Somali Coast Guard.
The UAE, he added, would also provide equipment, training, and other support required to make the coast guard a viable national agency responsible for maintaining maritime safety and security off the coast of Somalia.
The maritime industry represented at the conference also called on the international community and the Somali federal and regional authorities to work together to relieve the suffering of captive seafarers and to take action against violence targeting innocent people.
The industry also noted that to date pirates have not been able to launch successful attacks on merchant vessels employing sea marshals or armed security guards. However, there was a lack of clarity about the responsibilities of governments, as compared to those of commercial organisations in this regard.
Addressing the media on the sidelines of the conference, DP World vice-chairman Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah said the industry has urged the international community to regulate the maritime security industry, and for clearly demarcating between public and private sector responsibility.
Speaking on the occasion, CEO of ADNATCO- NGSCO and president of the UAE Ship-Owners Association Ali Obaid Al Yabhouni also stressed the need for combating maritime piracy in the neighbouring regions, which he added, has become one of the major challenges for the international community.