ATALANTA: Moving in the right direction
Photo: Council of the European Union
The European Union military operation, named EU NAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta, is moving in the right direction in its efforts against the pirates, declared Rear Admiral Philip Jones (UK), who commands this naval operation, at a press conference on 13 May in Brussels.
The operation satisfied every request to escort safely the ships of the World Food Programme (WFP) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia (131.000 metric tons, enough to feed 1,5 million).
The EU NAVFOR ships, from 12 EU member states, also provide protection for vulnerable vessels with particular focus on those sailing in the Gulf of Aden. The total operational area, off the Somali coast, is over 2 million square miles.
Atalanta offers to shipping companies a group transit concept to limit the risk of attacks by pirates in the region, where hundreds of ships navigate every day.
In the five months Atalanta has been running, 52 pirates have been detained, and 39 of them have been handed over to Kenya for prosecution. The EU military operation forces also succeeded in capturing some pirate mother ships which serve as a logistical base for sending small skiffs to attack commercial vessels.
The EU agreed with Kenya a legal instrument, allowing the prosecution and imprisonment of pirates arrested and detained by Atalanta forces. This legal instrument is a key element of the credibility of the operation, stressed Rear Admiral Jones. To deter the pirates, the EU intends to explore the scope for cooperation with other countries in the region as well.
The EU NAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 to help to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. This operation, in support of respective resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, is being conducted within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).