Tuesday, March 9, 2010

'Global effort needed to tackle pirates'

The Gulf Today, 13 Feb 2010

The scourge of piracy in the Gulf of Aden has been strongly linked with geo-political aspects, so the international community should develop combined strategies to save themselves from the maritime threats, says a leading expert.
The countries across the world should come together to bring out stable and effective maritime security measures to beat the threats of pirates, said Amir Hamzah Azizan, President and CEO of MISC, the third largest shipping firm in the world.
On the occasion of opening of its regional operation in Dubai last week, Azizan told The Gulf Today that currently the Somalian piracy has become further critical and the issue has to be resolved through international laws and regulations aimed at ensuring stability in the waters.
"The piracy is a very serious issue for the UAE which highly depends on the maritime transportation," he added.
"The humanitarian aspects of the issue should be considered significantly as the lives of ship crew members and their families are under serious risks. The pirates held 1,052 crew members for ransom, as they hijacked 49 vessels last year. The level of violence has increased with 120 vessels fired upon compared to 74 last year, eight crew members killed and 68 injured," said Azizan.
According to him, escorts should be provided to all ships moving through the Gulf of Aden. To tackle the Somali pirates, warships should urgently be deployed in the Gulf of Aden.
"More commitment with additional naval ships and air cover should be provided to discard the Somali pirates. The international flotilla including the US and European warships had prevented many hijackings. Currently, there are 30 warships in the Gulf of Aden from countries including China, Iran, India, Russia and Japan in addition to the coalition forces and the European Union and the same number again in waters off Somalia," he noted.
"The International Maritime Bureau reported from its piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that the year 2009 marked the fourth straight year of increases in sea hijacks. The sea attacks worldwide surged 39 per cent to 406 cases, the highest in six years, with Somali pirates' raids on vessels accounting for more than half of the piracy," explained Azizan.
He blamed Somalia's nearly 20 years of lawlessness for fuelling piracy's rise. The attacks were opportunistic in nature, with pirates sometimes paid multi-million-dollar ransoms.
"Meantime, the Somali pirates shifted their focus from the Gulf of Aden in the last quarter of 2009, as the international navies started patrolling the vast east coast of Somalia where 33 attacks were reported since October and 13 ships seized," he said.
According to him, the international navies play a critical role in the prevention of piracy off Somalia and it is vital that they remain in the region.

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