Resolution adopted to combat piracy

The Security Council steps up efforts to combat piracy off Somalia's coast by adopting a new resolution.

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UNITED NATIONS // The Security Council stepped up efforts to combat piracy off Somalia's coast by adopting a resolution yesterday that urges states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft and restore order to the lawless waters. Speaking after the resolution was passed, Jean-Maurice Ripert, France's ambassador to the UN, said Somalia had the support of "major maritime powers" and unveiled plans for a European Union military force.

"The Security Council voted unanimously in favour of the draft resolution that was presented by France and many co-sponsors ? to allow for a surge in the fight against piracy," Mr Ripert said. "There is a co-ordination cell which has been created in Brussels, and we hope to have a European Union military mission off the coast of Somalia, if possible decided and launched at the end of the year under the French presidency [of the EU]."

The resolution "calls upon all states interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft". The French-drafted text urges states with naval vessels and military aircraft operating on the high seas and airspace off the Somali coast "to use the necessary means, in conformity with international law ... for the repression of acts of piracy".

Pirates have seized dozens of ships off Somalia's 3,700km coast this year On Sept 25, pirates struck a potential gold mine by capturing the Ukrainian vessel MV Faina and her cargo of tanks and military hardware and are currently negotiating a ransom deal. The International Transport Workers' Federation and several shipping firms had repeatedly criticised governments for "standing idly by" as pirates ransacked the world's seaborne cargo industry.

Sam Dawson, a ITWF spokesman, described the resolution as "good news for everybody, seafarer and consumer alike", adding that he hoped it would "energise" efforts to defeat the scourge. In June, a resolution adopted by the 15-nation council authorised countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters and use "all necessary means" to stop piracy for a period of six months. The combined naval presence of the United States, Britain, France and Canada established a "buffer zone" on Aug 22 to protect a channel for merchant vessels, but the ITWF said ships were still coming under attack.

The UAE's mission to the UN voices great concern over piracy, estimating that about half the raided vessels are Emirates-flagged dhow boats that brave the perilous waters for trading raw materials with the Horn of Africa. Mr Ripert said pirates were also preventing World Food Programme ships delivering aid to the 3.5 million people expected to be in need of assistance by the end of the year. "Today the pirates are killing Somali people every day, little by little," the envoy said. "We must address this threat."