Somalia calls for international assistance to rid seas of pirates
The president of Somalia believes his country is capable of putting an end to piracy along its coastline within a year - but only if the global community joins the fight.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s plea for help came as the UAE pledged $1 million (Dhs3.7 million) towards eradicating armed assaults and hijackings off the Somali coast.
Ahmed, president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, said pirates have invested heavily in powerful ammunition and sophisticated communication equipment over the last five years and are now better
prepared than Somali forces.
“We need up to 6,000 well-trained and suitably armed Somali naval troops to counter the piracy threat along the Somali coast,” Ahmed told 7DAYS at the UAE Counter-Piracy Conference in Dubai yesterday.
“The international community could offer training and equipment to our naval forces.” Ahmed added: “Then we will be capable of clearing the coastline of pirates.
“Shipping firms have spent a lot in ransom payments, but a quarter of that money is enough for us to wipe out pirates within one year.”
Somali piracy cost the international community up to $6.9 billion in 2011, $1 billion more than Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product. “We have managed to weaken the Al Shabaab terrorists on the mainland with the help of African Union forces, I am optimistic that we can as well put an end to piracy if given the necessary support,” said Ahmed.
Somalia has been without a stable government for two decades due to civil war, which has allowed gangs, including pirates, to flourish.
The UAE government has offered $1 million towards the military efforts to beat pirates.
HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “Piracy in Somalia is a direct threat to our own security in the region. We must have a permanent regional body to deal with piracy threats in the region as a sustainable solution to the problem.”