PIRACY | Denmark offers Africa coastguard aid

Proposes to send military advisers to countries surrounding Somalia to help set up coastguards to tackle piracy

DENMARK’s defence minister, Gitte Lillelund Bech, has proposed sending military advisers from the Danish army to countries surrounding Somalia, in a bid to build up local measures to counter the region’s piracy problem.

She has suggested that military personnel be sent to countries like Kenya and other African states to assist in the establishing their own coastguards as part of an effort to find a permanent solution to the continued attacks on merchant shipping in the region.

The proposal has been welcomed by the Danish Shipowners’ Association.

DSA director René Piil Pedersen said the association is behind building up local capacity to deal with the problem in Somalia. “We fully agree that this is a fight you can not win on the sea,” he told Lloyd’s List, adding that the message goes hand in hand with the proposals of the DSA to find a permanent solution to the increased number of attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden.

“In a longer perspective you have to find solutions, and these solutions are ashore,” he said.

Ms Bech’s proposals would not involve sending troops directly to Somalia, but instead offering support to other countries to build up local capacity to deal with the problem.

There are few specific details at the moment, but the plan revolves around sending military advisers to countries such as Djibouti, Mozambique and Kenya, to help build up local coastguards and tackle the piracy attacks and some of the root causes behind it.

This may include creating local measures to protect the fishing rights in the region and so help those that are attacking merchant shipping find other livelihood elsewhere. It is believed that the attacks on merchant ships may have started when local fishermen lost their livelihood due to illegal fishing in Somalia’s territorial waters.

Many of the countries surrounding Somalia lack their own coastguard and so the capacity to tackle any illegal activities in the region. So not only would training be needed, but all the facilities to support such build up, including the acquisition of vessels, maintenance provisions and training, as well as bunker provision.

“We see this as giving support in a different way, in a more holistic way,” said Mr Pedersen.

Building up capacity would also involve creating local legal systems to deal with the problem, he said. The initiative offered by the Danish government would also be an incentive for other western states that have ships passing through the Gulf of Aden to get involved.

Source: LLOYD’S LIST

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