15 April 2009 Claiming that piracy off the coast of Somalia is wreaking global havoc, the top United Nations representative for the Horn of Africa country has called for an increase in efforts to fight what he calls an “international scourge.”
“I strongly believe that concrete efforts, such as the international maritime presence off the Somali coast, should be increased to help marginalize and suppress piracy,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday.
Commenting on the recent upsurge in pirate activity, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that, “without the maritime presence, the pandemic would have been far worse. Those contributing to the international presence are doing an excellent job, but they have a huge area to cover.”
He maintained that the recent operations by the Governments of the United States and France are sending a strong message to the pirates and their backers who, he said, “are exploiting the poverty and desperation of their young, unemployed compatriots.”
Some 300 hostages and 17 vessels are being held by a small group who are only interested in maximizing their illegal profits, Mr. Ould-Abdallah claimed.
“To ensure stability in Somalia and the region, as well as the freedom of navigation, the financial backers of the pirates should be identified quickly and held accountable,” said Mr Ould-Abdallah.
He stressed, however, that a military solution, while essential, should be complemented by credible development activity.
Somalia’s fledgling Government of National Unity, established in February, is tasked with fighting lawlessness in the country, which has been riven by factional fighting and had not had a functioning central government since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991.
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