Allan Jacob and Muaz Shabandri
It’s too early for the world to drop its guard on maritime piracy, and the UAE on Wednesday said it is keen on a deeper engagement with Somalia to help rid it of the scourge and further development in the country.
Following up on its $50 million commitment for Somalia in May, the UAE also plans to open an embassy in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Foreign Minister Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, speaking at the third counter piracy conference in Dubai, renewed the country’s pledge to improve the lives of the Somali people with more investments and infrastructure projects.
He said the UAE shares the vision of the Somali government to bring stability to the country to keep a lid on maritime piracy. Pirate attacks have dipped to record lows this year from its high five years ago, but he said the fight is not over yet.
“Despite the efforts being exerted by the international community to combat piracy on the Somali coast, the UAE still believes that maritime piracy, especially in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean, is a serious global concern and we are convinced that success in the fight against maritime piracy will be the result of unifying the efforts of the international community for capacity building in the region, addressing its roots in Somalia and other similar environments,’’ he said.
“We will not be tolerant with maritime piracy and will continue to provide adequate support for our partners to build their capacity and control their coasts and monitor their waters.”
Since May, the development and humanitarian assistance to Somalia has touched $22 million, and this has been allocated for food aid and drinking water supply
He said the UAE supported an agreement reached in Addis Ababa to establish an interim administration in Juba province under President Hassan Sheikh Mahmud.
‘‘The UAE is also keen to seek out opportunities of mutual cooperation between the two countries in economic projects, which include the areas of renewable energy, as a means to stimulate and develop sustainable energy in Somalia,’’ Shaikh Abdullah said.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, 57 sailors are still being held by pirate gangs and Somali President Mahmud said his country will ‘‘leave no stone unturned to free hostages, and to eliminate and eradicate piracy’’.
He said initiatives to address symptoms have helped, but addressing root causes are still an uphill task. ‘‘Instability, poverty and chaos are a breeding ground for extremism and piracy. It poses a threat to the security of Somalia, Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean. There cannot be a long-term solution without a long-term commitment (for Somalia).’’
Improving the law enforcement mechanism, upgrading the judicial system to try pirates in Somalia, intelligance sharing, providing jobs for youth and enhancing the role of fisheries in the economy are areas which require assistance.
Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said destinies are linked through trade and it is important for the world to come together to combat common concerns in Somalia.
‘‘At the end of the day, for those young men choosing to be pirates, there should be alternatives. Much of the trade we see through this area of the world goes through Europe. Almost half of trade through Europe passes through this region and therefore our destinies are linked.’’
Somalia has the second-longest coastline in Africa and is situated on one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.
The two-day conference is being attended by over 500 delegates, including foreign ministers, and was organised by port majors DP World and Abu Dhabi Ports Company. — firstname.lastname@example.org