Seafarers’ Org. Lauds EU’s Extension of Somali Anti-piracy Operations

The SOS – SaveOurSeafarers – campaign announced that it “welcomes the extension of the EU counter- piracy operation until end 2014, and the EU decision to broaden the scope of its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean by extending the naval forces’ area of operations to include Somali coastal territory.”

The Council of the European Union announced on Friday that it has prolonged the EU’s counter-piracy operation Atalanta by two more years, until December 2014.

In addition it expanded the area of operations for naval forces to conduct operation on the coast of Somalia, in addition to seaborne actions. SOS described the move as allowing the EU forces to “take more robust action on the Somali coast,” and as a “bold step towards the goal that the shipping industry and its seafarers embrace – that of seeing piracy in this region eliminated.”

The increased scope for actions against the pirates is necessary to “eradicate the threat of piracy,” particulalrly in light of the announced intention by both the UK and US governments that they will “press on with their avowed ambition of stopping ransom payments to pirates and other groups.”

SOS also welcomed the release of Judith Tebbutt, a British citizen, kidnapped by armed Somalis, who also killed he husband, in Kenya last September after a ransom was paid.

However, the organization also pointed out that “there are currently 220 seafarers being held by Somali pirates on 13 vessels, and another 40 being held on land, some of whom have been held for two years. What does the future hold for them if the ability to pay any ransoms is stopped?

SOS said it has written to the UK Prime Minister and other ministers “making it very clear that hindering in any way the payment of ransoms for ships and seafarers means ship owners can no longer guarantee the safety of their seafarers, as well as of their vessels and the cargoes that they carry.”

The organization posed the following question in that regards: “Will seafarers still go through the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden if no ransoms can be paid? Or will seafarers and ship owners be forced to avoid the area completely, with significant consequences to world trade?”

Source: SOS SaveOurSeafarers