'Somalia Continues To Hold Maritime Sector Hostage'


By Esther Komolafe

War-torn Somalia, with its worsening modern-day piracy problems and the growth of Islamic terrorist group Al Shabaab in the country, remains a major global security threat and will continue to hold the global maritime industry hostage unless the international community helps this once prosperous African nation, said state leaders who convened in Dubai for the 2nd UAE Counter-Piracy Conference.

The UAE-led conference brought together for the first time in 21 years the president of the transitional federal government of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed; and Somaliland President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, who signed a communiqué agreeing to formally endorse the process of talks between the two warring governments.

Jose Brillantes, Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns, meanwhile, said 45 Filipino seafarers and five ships are still held by the Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

“The threat posed by maritime piracy to global trade, and to the region’s security and economic well-being, continues to be grave,” said UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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UAE, which brokered the deal between TFG and Somaliland, pledged $1million to support Somalia’s maritime security-capacity-building efforts in countering the activities of the pirates.

“This commitment is made as part of a larger commitment the UAE will make to comprehensively support the development of the Somali Coast Guard, following the 20 August end of the transition and formation of a permanent central government, with a new constitution,” said Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

The money is managed through the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States to Counter Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia. Since its inception in January 2010, the Trust Fund has accumulated $14million, of which $13.1million has been spent. Gargash said that in addition to the money, the UAE would provide Somalia with boats, communications equipment and facilities like a central operating station in Mogadishu.

Since civil war broke in Somalia in 1991, the country has been in chaos with no official government ruling over its 10 million people.

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