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Monday, May 01, 2006

Drought Relief Envoy Calls for Increased Security for aid workers

Headline Visiting War-Torn Somalia, UN Drought Relief Envoy Calls for Increased Security:
The top United Nations relief official for the Horn of Africa arrived in Somalia today on the final stage of a weeklong tour, urging donors to be flexible as the aid community works on carrying out longer-term programmes in the faction-torn country, where some 2.1 million people urgently need food aid and other support this year.

In Baidoa, where the Somali parliament is now meeting, Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa Kjell Magne Bondevik called for increased security and access for humanitarian workers to deliver aid in a country which has lacked a functioning central government ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime 15 years ago.
Well, to begin with, the UN ought to be seeking escort ships to help convoy vital food supplies into the ports of Somalia. It is ridiculous that such ships are either being sent unescorted or that the food is being diverted to much costlier and less efficient land routes. Such escort duty is not all that hard, and well within the capability of any navy that would like to step forward at the UN or Somali government request. The UN should also seek shoreside security for the foodstuffs so that it wont't be seized by some warlord or another and doled out to his people as a sign of his power and might. For all their efforts over the years, I am always amazed at how slow the UN is on logistics issues...

Meawhile, NUMAST, a British shipping union, raises some legitimate points (well, until you get to the last bit):
The British shipping union, Numast, believes the situation is getting out of hand in the region and it spoke of the "alarming escalation" in the nature and scale of attacks on merchant shipping.

Numast wants action, both from the British government and the UN to stem the rising tide of piracy.

Head of Communications Andrew Linington recently told a House of Commons committee that the evidence of increasingly sophisticated attacks should serve "as a warning signal" to politicians.

"We have been told repeatedly not to conflate piracy with terrorism," he said.

"But the concern for us is that if you allow ships to be attacked in this way, it is essentially an advert to the terrorists to show the ease with which just a few men armed with knives and guns can commandeer a ship."

Numast believe insufficient resources are being deployed to protect merchant shipping from the threat of piracy, not just off the coast of Somalia but world-wide.

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