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UN renews anti-piracy ships off Somalia for only 3 months

UNITED NATIONS (PA) – The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to allow international naval forces to continue to use all means necessary to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia – but only for next three months, as the Somali government says there has been no piracy incident for over four years and it is time to end the operation.

The council has been renewing for 12 months the authorization granted to regional organizations and countries to fight piracy and armed robbery off the coast of the nation of the Horn of Africa. But this year, the Somali government, whose consent is required, opposed another one-year renewal requested by the United States, which drafted the resolution, and only agreed to three months after negotiations with the United States and other council members.

“We believe the Security Council resolutions on piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia have achieved the intended purpose,” Somali Ambassador to the UN Abukar Dahir Osman told the council after the vote .

He said that 13 years after the adoption of the first Council resolution to combat piracy, the milestone of “four consecutive years without any piracy incidents and no piracy hostages being held in Somalia is a true testament to the taking. burden of the problem by the Somali Federal Government, in addition to our hard work in collaboration with our international partners.

Osman said Somalia had agreed to a three-month extension of the mandate to allow a transition to bilateral agreements in Somali national waters “to help us with maritime security, which is the only lasting way to preserve the hard-earned gains. “.

The Security Council resolution welcomed the steady decline in hijackings off the Somali coast since 2011 and the fact that no successful hijackings for ransom have been reported since March 2017. ”citing reports from the secretary UN General Antonio Guterres and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Somali Coast, who continue to illustrate that piracy “has been suppressed but not eradicated”.

The resolution welcomes the efforts of the European Union naval forces operation off Somalia, which was launched in December 2008, as well as the African Union counter-piracy activities ashore in Somalia, and other naval efforts in the region, including by China, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Three decades of chaos – from warlords to al-Shabab affiliated with al-Qaida and the emergence of an Islamic State-linked group – have torn Somalia apart, which in recent years has started trying to rebuild and find its place. Pressure on President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to hold elections has intensified since elections scheduled for February 8 did not take place.

While noting improvements in Somalia, the Security Council said it “also recognizes that piracy exacerbates instability in Somalia by introducing large amounts of illicit money which fuels crime, corruption and terrorism”.

Asked after the meeting what will happen to naval operations when the council’s mandate ends in three months, Nigerian ambassador to the UN Abdou Abarry, who is the current council chairman, told The Associated Press: “We will continue negotiations, and we will await the outcome of negotiations between Somalia and the African Union.

France’s political coordinator Sheraz Gasri told the council that three months was too short for the European Union and others to continue the naval operation “under good conditions”.

“There is a risk of a security vacuum, which would be catastrophic for Somalia and for the entire region,” she warned. “Indeed, the operation is not limited to restricting piracy, it also stops the trafficking of arms and weapons for the Shabab and the safety of boats for the supply of food and humanitarian aid to Somalia. . “

Gasri said France would continue to listen to the Somali authorities and “take note of their willingness to coordinate the fight against piracy”. In return, she said, France calls on Somalia to recognize that such a development requires “concerted efforts” and that maritime security cannot be separated from the country’s overall security transition.

Irish Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason echoed France’s concern over the threat to the EU operation, which she described as “crucial”.

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