French ship to protect Somali food aid

26th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2007, ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - A French naval vessel will in mid-November start protecting food aid destined for the beleaguered Somalis from pirate attacks, a French naval officer said Thursday.

26 October 2007

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - A French naval vessel will in mid-November start protecting food aid destined for the beleaguered Somalis from pirate attacks, a French naval officer said Thursday.

"We have plans to send a warship from France's frigate class ... to escort WFP food aid from Mombasa to Mogadishu starting from mid-November in operations that will last until mid-January," Vice Admiral Jacques Launay, told AFP.

"The operations have a defensive and preventive posture but they will respond if they come under attack," he added.

Launay, joint commander of France's Indian Ocean fleet, was in Addis Ababa for talks with Africa Union officials.

A World Food Pogramme-chartered vessel on Sunday escaped an attack off the Somali coast, hightlighting problems facing the agency faces in feeding starving Somalis.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered French help back in September after pirates forced the UN agency to halt food deliveries to Somalia by the Indian Ocean.

Because of the disastrous state of the country's roads and the civil unrest, aid organisations prefer to use boats and 80 percent of UN aid reaches Somalia by sea.

But the cargo ships are a prime target for pirates, who operate high-powered speed boats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers.

Several attacks have occurred this year off Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of unpatrolled coastline, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

AFP

Subject: French news

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