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21 Nov, 2008 17:57

Piracy purge: Moscow to send more warships to Somali coast

Russia is planning to increase its efforts to fight pirates plaguing the waters around the Horn of Africa. An international force of more than a dozen vessels is already stationed there and will be joined by more from Russia next year.

The battleship ‘Fearless’ is already there as part of a multi-national force protecting ships in the Gulf of Aden.
“We are currently working on a detailed plan to jointly tackle piracy around the Horn of Africa. As soon as it’s implemented Russian ships will be sent to the area,” said General Nikolay Makarov.

Makarov, the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, said it will be hard to send a large group of ships, because at the moment Russia doesn’t have permanent bases there.

But Somalia’s ambassador to Russia, Mohamed Handule, says his country will do its best to support ships sent by Moscow.

“We welcome any country sending its ships to help Somalia tackle piracy. So I think sending more Russian ships to the coast of Somalia is a good idea. We will help as much as we can in technical support,” he said.

International efforts to fight piracy in the region continue.

UN members have unanimously approved a resolution calling for measures to be taken against people and organisations helping the pirates. It includes travel restrictions and the freezing of assets.

But experts say that the root of the problem is that the government is in a political mess.

Elmi Ahmed Duale, Permanent Representative of Somalia to the UN, said: “The Transitional Federal Government does not have the security, the capacity to defend and control the entire country as it is, security apparatus lacks adequate equipment, training and has no financial resources.”
The Gulf of Aden remains one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world. There have been more than a hundred piracy attacks this year alone.

In the past two weeks eight vessels have been seized including a huge Saudi supertanker loaded with $US 100 million worth of crude oil.

But piracy is a profitable business for those struggling in Somalia. According to Kenya's foreign minister, Somali pirates have collected more than $US 150 million in ransom fees over the past year.