The piracy threat off the coast of
Somalia is a persistent security concern threatening the safe delivery of
humanitarian assistance to millions of people in need. The number of people
in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia has increased to nearly 3.2
million people, representing some 43% of the Somali population. Rates of
child Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in most of south and central Somalia
range from 15 to 20 per cent in many areas. For many vulnerable Somalis the
only hope for survival is through food aid provided by the World Food
France, Denmark, the Netherlands and
Canada offered naval escorts that allowed food aid to reach Somalia. From
November 2007 when the naval escort started, to September 2008 a total of 27
vessels delivered some 1 18,617 metric tons of food aid. According to WFP,
the naval escorts proved to be an effective deterrent against pirates.
Ninety per cent of WFP food aid arrives
to Somalia by sea. WFP plans to double the amount of food it delivers in
Somalia to increase the number of people it feeds from 2 million to a
monthly average of 2.4 million by December 2008.
With a letter dated 25 Sep. 2008 the UN
SECGEN asked NATO SECGEN to assist with NATO countries providing naval
escorts to WFP vessels on a temporary basis, pending a commitment by the EU.
NATO Defence Ministers, at their meeting in Budapest on 9 October 2008
agreed to this request and that NATO will contribute to deter piracy in the
waters off the coast of Somalia. In this context, NATO will provide ships
from SNMG2 to patrol the waters off the coast of Somalia and escort ships
carrying food supplies for WFP.
A recent decision of European Union (EU)
Foreign Ministers to set up a coordination unit tasked with supporting the
surveillance and protection activities carried out by some EU Member States
off the Somali coast was a welcome development. However, since the
establishment of regular and predictable naval escorts by the EU NAVFOR for
ships carrying humanitarian supplies to Somalia will take some time, NATO
was ready and has the capabilities to respond to this request; assuring
continued provision of humanitarian relief in the coming weeks.
information about Operation Allied Provider can be found at this