UN maritime agency welcomes Security Council action on Somalia piracy

3 June 2008 – The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has welcomed a new Security Council resolution which aims to curb piracy along Somalia’s coast by allowing ships to enter the country's territorial waters to prevent attacks by armed robbers.

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said today in a statement that firm action was needed since the current situation was stifling the flow of much-needed aid to Somalis, jeopardizing the lives of innocent seafarers, fishers and passengers, and adversely affecting international trade.

The Security Council resolution gives permission, for a period of six months, to States cooperating with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter the country's territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with international law.

The resolution follows a surge in attacks on ships in the waters off Somalia's coast, including hijackings of vessels operated by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other commercial vessels. The resolution’s text says these developments pose a threat “to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of food aid and other humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia,” and a grave danger to vessels, crews, passengers and cargo.

The text was adopted by the Council yesterday with the consent of the TFG, which lacks the capacity to interdict pirates or patrol and secure its territorial waters.

“We should work together to ensure that acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships sailing off the coast of Somalia are prevented and suppressed to the benefit of the Somali people, first and foremost, the seafarers and passengers on ships sailing in the region, the shipping industry and international seaborne trade," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

The Security Council encouraged States interested in the use of commercial routes off the coast of Somalia to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter attacks upon and hijacking of vessels, in co-operation with the country's Government.

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