EUROPEAN UNION ANTI-PIRACY OPERATION COMMANDER MEETS TANZANIA LEADERS (04/02/2011)

The European Union's first naval force (EUNAVFOR) Commander for Somalia Operation Atlanta Major General Buster Howes, visited Dar es Salaam on February 3. The visit was part of a regional trip culminating in Tanzania. While in Tanzania Maj. Gen. Howes met with President Kikwete along with Foreign Minister Bernard Membe and the Minster of Defence and National Security, Dr. Hassan Mwinyi and finally the Chief of the Navy staff, Maj. Gen. S.S. Omar.

Major General Buster Howes commented that there is an increasing spread of piracy south from the coast of Somalia and that it is important that regional partners work with the international community to protect their national interests and help deter acts of piracy.

The problem of Piracy has seen a convergence of the international community, industry and national interests. This threat is not limited to the coastal countries when in the region of five landlocked countries rely on Kenya's ports and seven on Dar es Salaam port. A key element to the deterrence of piracy is the ability to prosecute suspects. The European Union continues to identify partners to cooperate with.

BACKGROUND

EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atlanta was launched in December 2008 following a considerable escalation in acts of piracy over the past years off the coast of Somalia in order to protect humanitarian aid and reduce disruption to the shipping routes and the de-stabilsing of the maritime environment in the region.

This military operation contributes to the protection of World Food Programme vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, to the protection of vulnerable vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia and to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery.

The EU has concluded transfer agreements with Kenya and the Seychelles. Agreements with other countries in the region are under discussion.

As part of its efforts to support stability and security in Somalia, the EU launched in April 2010 a training mission (EUTM) in Uganda to train Somali troops (www.consilium.europa.eu/eutm-somalia). The EU should therefore continue to help stabilize Somalia by providing support to vital and priority areas such as the security sector, development, assistance to the population and capacity-building support, in addition to deployment of EUNAVFORAtlanta and humanitarian assistance.

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