Somalia: Puntland President’s statement at 3rd Dubai International Counter-Piracy Conference.

Puntland State of Somalia

Statement by President of Puntland State of Somalia
H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole)

3’rd Dubai International Counter-Piracy Conference
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
September 11-12, 2013

His Excellency the UAE Foreign Minister, Chairman of DP World, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports Company, Honorable Ministers, Ambassadors and Diplomats from around the World, Members of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Members of the Kampala Process, Representatives from the Private Sector, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and  Gentleman: 

Our sincere appreciations go to the people and Government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting this international conference, and also to the conference’s co-organizers DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company. Additionally, I wish to emphasize my sincere thanks to the UAE Government for actively supporting counter-piracy operations in Somalia and in Puntland State, in particular.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to share my deep sympathy with the families and friends of hostages and victims of Somali mpiracy and with the global shipping industry in general, which has faced unprecedented challenges due to Somalia-based maritime piracy attacks.

Somalia has come a long way to recover from  maritime piracy  crimes. In 2009,  like-minded representatives from the around the world  came together in Kampala, Uganda, to make way for a new  platform  known as the “Kampala Process”  that will coordinate maritime security issues in Somalia. Today, I am pleased to be able to represent Puntland State in this initiative.

Political stability in Puntland underlines the importance of establishing good governance as a basis for accelerating reconstruction and socio-economic development. The political environment and rule of law in Puntland offers opportunities for further partnership and renewed development in maritime security and the fight to end maritime piracy in Somalia.

Puntland’s counter-piracy achievements

Located at one of the world’s most strategic positions, Puntland’s 1,300km-long coastline sits at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden waterways, and the international maritime corridor where an estimated over 22,000 commercial vessels travel through annually. This strategic location makes Puntland vulnerable to an array of threats, including maritime piracy, terrorism, arms smuggling, human and drug trafficking, illegal fishing, and toxic waste dumping,  among other

Puntland confronts a diverse set of adversaries fully prepared to exploit this vast  territory for  unlawful and destructive purposes. The seas serve as the medium for a variety of transnational threats that honor no national frontier and that seek to imperil the peace and prosperity of Puntland State, Somalia in general, the Horn of Africa and East Africa, the adjacent Arabian Peninsula, and the World.

However, I am pleased to observe that much has been done to combat piracy in recent years leading to a marked decline in the incidence of Somali maritime piracy attacks. This development is due to a number of key factors, including actions taken on land and along the sea in Somalia by Puntland  security forces supported by local communities, international naval  warships patrolling Somali waters, and private security aboard commercial vessels. In particular, the deployment of Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) at coastal locations has disrupted the pirates’ south-north movement along the eastern coast, aiming to reach the tip of the Horn of Africa to hunt commercial vessels. In this regard, it is noteworthy to mention that PMPF liberated MV Iceberg-1 and safely rescued 22 hostages on December 23, 2012, Puntland Port Police also liberated MV QSM Dubai cargo vessel in June 2010 as well as other vessels, and Puntland Parliament enacted Somalia’s first-ever Anti-Piracy Law in 2010.

But this is not the time to relax because the fight end piracy in Somalia is far from over. We believe  that Somali piracy criminals are regrouping. In some recent cases, for example,  piracy criminals hijacked cargo vessels transporting livestock near Puntland’s port of Bossaso. This is clear indication about the pirates’ desperation. Moreover, piracy criminals are linked  to terrorist groups and arms smuggling criminals that threaten peace and stability in Puntland and the wider region.

Puntland efforts and challenges

The land-based approach to combatting piracy has been particularly effective in Puntland, as the government has arrested pirates, seized equipment, and prosecuted piracy suspects in court. Some 290 pirates have been jailed in Puntland, the largest concentration of Somali pirates jailed in over 20 countries around the world.

The terrain along the coast of Puntland in northern Somalia consists of rugged mountains, valleys,  and caves, providing an ideal operational environment for  pirates, terrorists,  and other criminal  groups to operate. Some areas along the coast remain inaccessible by land and pose a major challenge to Puntland Government’s operational capability. The sheer magnitude of maritime domain in Puntland complicates the difficult and complex task of maintaining maritime security in the vast area.

Puntland lacks maritime transport capacity including properly equipped seaborne vessels to patrol and monitor waters near the Puntland coast and disrupt the pirates’ seagoing capability. Puntland requires its law enforcement capacity to be strengthened and expanded, to meet the challenges posed by maritime piracy and related crimes.

Illegal fishing

It is important to note that one of the most important underlying causes of the maritime piracy phenomenon in Somalia include illegal fishing and alleged toxic waste dumping in Somalia’s waters. Coastal communities in Puntland are gravely concerned about the continued presence of foreign illegal fishing vessels. For example, an  awareness campaign jointly conducted in May 2013 by Puntland Ministry of Maritime Transport, Ports and Counter-Piracy and UNODC in Galkayo found that the participants termed illegal fishing activities in Somali waters as “new and modern piracy”, thereby reflecting public perception which encourages maritime pirate insurgency to continue.

Puntland Government strongly condemns all  acts of maritime piracy,  ransom payments that fuel piracy attacks, illegal fishing and alleged toxic waste dumping in Somalia waters. Puntland calls on the international community to take strong action against illegal fishing and alleged toxic dumping in Somali Waters.

Recommendations –

In our security environment, responding to these unpredictable transnational threats requires coordination to prevent attacks, protect people and infrastructure, minimize damage and expedite  recovery. Focusing on rebuilding Somalia necessitates the integration and alignment of all maritime security programs and initiatives into a far-reaching and unified effort involving  authorities in Somalia at federal and state levels, in coordination with civil society and the private sector, and aided by the international community. Puntland is particularly affected by piracy, but Puntland also fought against maritime piracy and earned the experience and capacity to counter the continuing threat of Maritime Piracy.

Benefiting from local sources, building light industry in fisheries sector and frankincense should be a priority to  generate employment and income opportunities for coastal communities whose livelihoods was disrupted by piracy and illegal fishing phenomena. Construction of jetties along the Puntland coast, cold stores, and coastal feeders are fundamental to reviving and strengthening the fisheries industry.  The challenges  Puntland faces, the adversaries we confront, and the difficult operational environment,  compel us to strengthen our ties with allies and friends and to seek new partnerships with members of the international community.

It is a legal and moral obligation on the international community to ensure that lawful private and public activities in our maritime domain are protected from hostile attacks and unlawful exploitation. Collaboration between Puntland and international partners is fundamental to the economic stability and growth, and to protect the vital interests of Puntland and maritime security of the wider region.

Building Somali local capacity  to enforce rule of law and focusing on reinstituting economic activities for coastal communities will contribute significantly to the fight to end piracy in Somalia.

It is only through such an integrated approach among all maritime partners  – governments,  civil society, public and private sectors – that we can improve maritime security in Somalia.

Puntland Government recommends the following:

• Building local capacity of law enforcement institutions, including maritime security force and

• Reviving fisheries sector economic activities to create employment opportunities;

• Establishing vocational schools for skill development;

• Registering and documenting all seagoing vessels, owners and activities;

• Enhancing port security to ISPS CODE compliant, which acts as a base for expansion of

• Creating and maintaining security at seaports, particularly at strategic key areas through infrastructure improvement, human resource development and provision of equipment; and

• Seizing and prosecuting Illegal Unregulated Unreported Fishing vessels off the coast of Somalia and any vessels responsible for alleged toxic waste dumping.

Thank you all and God bless.


Original Article