International efforts needed to tackle Somali pirates
EU president expresses concern about recent attacks off the Somali coast and calls for a strong international effort.22 April 2008
BRUSSELS - The EU presidency on Monday called for "a strong international effort" to tackle piracy off the Somali coast where Spanish and French vessels have been attacked recently.
The EU's Slovenian presidency expressed "deep concern for the violent nature of those acts which have been taking place repeatedly in the last months".
A French yacht was attacked by Somali pirates on 4 March. On Sunday, pirates boarded a Spanish trawler with 26 crew members and made a ransom demand a day later.
The attacks "are a major hindrance to the European efforts towards the political stability of Somalia, as well as the normal relations between Somalia and the rest of the world, including the deliverance of humanitarian assistance," the European Union statement said.
"A strong international effort is needed in order to find an adequate solution," it said.
"This effort should be made in close cooperation with other international actors, particularly in the framework of the UN."
The coastal waters off Somalia, which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity, are considered to be among the most dangerous waterways for shipping in the world.
On Monday, a major Japanese oil tanker was damaged and then chased by heavily armed pirates off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen but no one was injured, officials and crew members said.
Last year more than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters despite US navy patrols.
The International Maritime Bureau advises merchant ships to stay at least 200 nautical miles from the Somali coast.
[AFP / Expatica]