Indian Ocean HRA
The threat of piracy still exists in the waters of the Southern Red Sea/ Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Yemen and the northern Somali coast, Arabian Sea/Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coastline. Although the opportunity for attacks has reduced, Somali pirates continue to possess the motivation and capability to carry out attacks.
Reported incidents HRA 15th – 21st March
There have been no reported piracy incidents reported in the High Risk Area (HRA) during this reporting period.
It is highly unlikely that international shipping is being directly targeted by combatants in the Yemen conflict, but there remains a risk of misidentification and miscalculation. The situation is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly. Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.
Masters are advised to remain vigilant at all times inside the High-Risk Area (HRA) and follow the guidance and protective measures, as set down in BMP5. In the past, it has been reported that Pirate Attack Groups (PAG) conducted ‘soft approaches’ on merchant ships transiting the HRA. Skiffs have been known to approach vessels in order to probe the reaction of the crew and any possible security teams on-board. If the pirate approach does not elicit a response, the pirates may then proceed with an attack, using additional skiffs. The guidance in BMP5 remains relevant and merchant vessels transiting the High-Risk Area are encouraged to comply with its three fundamentals; register at MSCHOA, report to UKMTO and implement Self Protection Methods.
The al Houthi movement spokesperson Yahya Sarea stated on March 17 that al Houthi forces are ready to strike Riyadh and Abu Dhabi if the Stockholm Agreement collapses. Sarea claimed that the al Houthi forces have been building ballistic capabilities and now have a “stockpile of missiles”.
The leader of the al Houthi movement’s Supreme Revolutionary Committees, Mohammad Ali al Houthi, said that the al Houthi movement will not relinquish control of ports of al Hudaydah along Yemen’s western coast in an interview with the Associated Press on March 19. The al Houthi movement agreed to withdraw its forces but it will maintain control of the ports following redeployment. Prior to al Houthi’s statement, UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said that there had been “significant progress” on the withdrawal of forces from al Hudaydah. Implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement has stalled since December 2018 due to disagreements over who will control the ports in al Hudaydah following the mutual redeployment of al Houthi forces and Saudi-led coalition forces.
Somalia National Army (SNA) forces have been withdrawing from bases in the Middle Shabelle region over several days due to a dispute with the Somali Federal Government (SFG) over salary payments. SNA forces vacated bases in Mahaday, Qalimow, and Bal’ad and gathered in Jowhar. Al Shabaab militants raided Bal’ad town after troops withdrew on March 18. Militants also seized Dhanaane in Lower Shabelle region, south of Mogadishu.
Al Shabaab militants seized Busaar town in Gedo region, located in southern Somalia bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, on March 19 after Kenyan AMISOM forces withdrew from the area. The Kenyan forces withdrew to el Wak border town. Kenyan AMISOM forces also withdrew from Fafadun town in Gedo region in early March.
Oxfam reported that drought conditions have worsened significantly in Puntland and Somaliland in recent months. An estimated 1.7 million residents require humanitarian assistance in Somaliland.