Somalia: Piracy Largely Curbed but Threat Persists – Admiral

The war against piracy in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean scored a 100 percent success, the German Commander of the Naval Task Force 465, Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Mühlen has declared.

Commander Mühlen said this at a press conference yesterday during the visit of the European Naval Force flagship vessel, the German frigate Brandenburg which is docked at the port of Dar es Salaam from 6th to 10th of May.

He told reporters yesterday at Umoja House that since the launch of the EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta in 2008, the number of successful pirate attacks has dramatically fallen.

Mühlen said that in 2010 pirates captured 47 vessels and their crews, but by end 2011 the number was down to 25 vessels held for ransom by pirates.

“In December 2012 EU NAVFOR registered four ships still in the hands of pirates. Since 2011 the number of hostages held dropped from a peak of 743 in January 2011 to 114 in December 2012,” he said.

However, Mühlen emphasized that the threat of piracy continues to exist. Ten days ago, the crew of Brandenburg boarded an Indian dhow which had been taken hostage by pirates. The pirates fled from the captured dhow as EU naval forces intervened from the air and sea.

“This event confirms that the piracy threat is still very real in the Indian Ocean. The deterrence and swift action by EU Naval Force once again denied the freedom of action to pirates,” he elaborated.

The Chargé d´Affaires of the German Embassy, Hans Koeppel said that in April 2014 Germany has taken for the second time the military lead for Operation Atalanta.

“The naval force consists of warships from Germany, France, Greece and Spain supported by maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircrafts provided by Germany, Luxemburg and Spain,” he said.

For his part, the political counselor of the European Union Delegation, Tom Vens said that a military operation was launched in 2008 to protect vessels delivering humanitarian aid to the Somali population and to prevent and fight acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

“Piracy in the region has been a threat to security, international shipping and development since the mid-2000s and Somali-based piracy is characterized by extorting ransom money for the vessel and the crew and bears all the features of organized crime,” he stated.

The EU NAVFRO operates in an area of operation covering the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and large part of the Indian Ocean, including Seychelles.

The area of operation also includes the Somali coastal territory as well as its territorial and internal water. This represents an area of about 2million square nautical miles (approximately 3,700,000 square kilometers).

On 23 March 2012 the council of the EU extended the mandate of the operation Atalanta until December 2014, also extending the area of operations to include Somali coastal territory and internal waters.


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