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Department of Political Affairs

Fund to combat Somalia piracy boosted

With fresh support from first-time donors including Gulf States and the private sector, a UN trust fund to help combat Somali piracy is consolidating and expanding its activities.

The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) chairs the Board of the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which was launched in early 2010. The UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) manages the Fund administratively.

Now in its second year, the Fund has supported projects ranging from renovating overcrowded prisons to campaigning against the appeal of piracy amongst the Somali youth. Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of SomaliaAt a Dubai donors’ conference in April 2011, the Fund received a new financial boost of about USD 5 million in fresh pledges, ensuring support for new and existing projects.

With almost daily reports of attacks, piracy off the Horn of Africa has become an increasingly serious problem in recent years. The Fund responds to this development through prosecution and detention-related activities as well as other priorities of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), a forum of 60 states and international organizations overseeing the Fund.

Rehabilitation of prisons Rehabilitation of prisons
In its first year, the Fund supported 14 projects at a cost of USD 7 million. A large portion of the money was allocated to the rehabilitation of prisons in Somalia as well as in Kenya and the Seychelles, states that have agreed to prosecute piracy suspects. In the Somali region of “Puntland”, the country’s first new prison in 30 years opened at the end of 2010. Thanks to an increase in the available accommodation to prisoners, improved sanitary installations as well as the procurement of medical supplies, the Hargeisa prison is now in line with international minimum standards. In addition to improvements to the infrastructure, the staff has been trained to apply best practices in prison management. Another project of the Fund instructed prosecutors in Somalia on maritime crime and piracy, developing their capacity to conduct fair and efficient trials for alleged pirates.

Campaigning against the appeal of piracy
The Fund also supports an anti-piracy-communication project carried out by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) targeting Somali youth. Through messages in newspapers, radio and TV shows, and even on the web, the campaign aims at contradicting the image of pirates as heroes who get rich quickly through their exploits, while underscoring the dangers of taking part in piracy.

Successful donors’ conference
The Dubai fundraiser hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April saw a number of “firsts” for the Trust Fund. The UAE and Qatar became the first countries to contribute to the fund, and Kuwait announced subsequently it would do so as well. Three port companies based in the UAE also made pledges. Finally, two new contributors from Asia came forward, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.