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UAE stresses full support to counter piracy off the Coast of Somalia

posted on 28/07/2012: 2959 views



New York, July 26th, 2012 (WAM) -- The United Arab Emirates has stressed its full support to develop the capacity of Somali national forces, especially its coast guard following the end of the transitional period in August with the aim of countering piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Abdulkhaleq Bin-Dhaaer Al-Yafei, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of UAE to the United Nations announced this yesterday before the 12th Plenary Meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia at the UN headquarters here in New York.

Following is the full speech of Al-Yafei, Mr. President, I would first like to express on behalf of the United Arab Emirates our thanks to Spain, for chairing this 12th Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. As the 11th Chair of this important group, the UAE is aware of the significance of this undertaking, and the efforts that go into it.

2012 has been a year of great opportunity for the international community's collective response to piracy off the coast of Somalia. High-level international commitment to achieving a lasting solution to the piracy problem has been repeatedly demonstrated: as leaders from government and industry have come together in meetings in London, Istanbul, Dubai, and this month in Perth, to seek ways to enhance the collective response.

At sea, the robust and admirable international counter-piracy naval operations and private maritime sector's increasing development of self-protection measures has significantly reduced pirate attack and the success of attempted hijack.

On land, sustained international engagement and the continued efforts of Somali and AMISOM forces on the ground has led to progress in the security situation in Somalia, and facilitated political progress in the country that was hardly imagined in previous years. In this respect, the signature of the Dubai Declaration between President Sharif of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and President Silanyo of Somaliland, on the sidelines of the UAE's second high-level public-private counter-piracy conference last month, opening the door for potential reconciliation and a comprehensive agreement on Somalia's political future, is testament to this new era.

This comprehensive progress has been translated into the figures: this month, the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre reported a dramatic 54 per cent decrease in incidents of piracy off the Coast of Somalia from 2011 to 2012, year on year.

This progress should be cause for optimism for the future for all parties: the international effort will overcome the global threat posed by maritime piracy.

The UAE's second public-private counter-piracy conference, held under the title A Regional Response to Maritime Piracy: Enhancing Public-Private Partnerships and Strengthening Global Engagement, was a part of this comprehensive international effort.

The Conference was an opportunity for high-level delegates from government and the global maritime industry to reflect on the progress made. But it also presented an opportunity for the international community to look to the challenges ahead: as Somalia and regional states, and the global maritime industry, called upon the international community to ensure that the counter-piracy response can be turned in a long-term cure.

In this respect, the UAE Conference gained consensus on two key areas for the international effort to focus, First: the international community must provide sufficient support to ensure that states in the piracy-affected region have the capacity to mount viable national counter-piracy challenges. This support must begin with Somalia: so that the Somali authorities can enforce maritime safety and security in its territorial waters.

In this regard, the UAE joined Somalia in emphasizing the need to develop of the Somali national coast guard. At the Conference, the UAE announced its intention to provide comprehensive support to establish this crucial national force, including boats, stations and other equipment, and financial resources, following the August end of the transition. We commend also the initiative of the European Union towards maritime capacity building for Somalia and its intentions to include regional states in this regard.

The Dubai Conference further presented an opportunity to provide further political support for the work of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, in particular Working Group 1 and the Contact Group Trust Fund, in this key area of regional capacity building.

The Conference Final Statement endorsed the UAE's proposal to further enhance the activity and the profile of the Trust Fund of the Contact Group by making it a central focal point for funds directed toward regional maritime security capacity building projects to counter piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Toward this end, the UAE announced a new financial commitment to the Trust Fund, of US$1million, to be used in support of this key area. The UAE looks forward to further engagement with its Contact Group partners, and especially with Working Groups 1 and 2, on reflecting the agreement of the Dubai Conference in the Terms of Reference of the Trust Fund and in seeing new projects in this area agreed.

Second: the UAE Conference further emphasized the need to expand public-private cooperation in the fight against piracy. Leaders from the maritime sector demonstrated their readiness to do more to support the international response, including through providing new financial resources. Regional and international governments made clear their willingness to support them in these efforts.

In particular, global maritime industry clearly communicated its increasing concern for the humanitarian situation facing seafarers, and called on governments and the international community to do more in this area. 11 vessels and 218 crew members continue to be held by Somali pirates on land and at sea. These figures may represent a decrease on previous years. But so long as seafarers remain captive, combating maritime piracy must remain a priority among both governments and global maritime industry.

We reaffirm at the same time that countering piracy cannot be effective without fundamental changes in the stability and security conditions of Somalia. Therefore we urge the international community to provide the necessary funding for the initiatives and projects aimed at developing alternate livelihoods for the Somali people, including by providing assistance to Somalia for the early establishment of its exclusive economic zone, enactment of the necessary anti-piracy national legislations, and the development of fisheries and infrastructure for exports of livestock and other projects for boosting the local economy, in order to enable Somalia reduce the negative phenomena that spread among its people as a result of poverty and lack of security and stability, and to prevent the Somali youth and the unemployed from involvement in piracy activities. In this context, we also emphasize the need to make efforts of combating piracy in Somalia an integral part of the overall strategy of the Djibouti Agreement of Peace, which requires providing the necessary assistance to the Somali Government in order to enable it achieve reconciliation, promote good governance and the rule of law, building transitional federal institutions and strengthening the capacity of achieving sustainable national development, in order to bring peace and stability across the country.

The UAE continues to look forward to its engagement with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, its five Working Groups, and all participants. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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