Thursday, June 12, 2008

Somalia: Volunteer needed for escort duty

For several months World Food Program releif ships have been escorted by war ships as they have sailed the waters off Somalia. Before the escort service began the WFP ships were frequent targets of Somali pirates, since the escort service, not one has been seized. The Dutch are currently providing the escort, but are due to withdraw their frigate in a couple of weeks, and no country has yet stepped forward to replace them. Now, as set out here , the WFP is looking for volunteers:
The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) Thursday called on naval powers to provide escorts to protect its aid shipments off the pirate-ridden Somali coast, warning that millions of Somalis could starve without help.

A Dutch frigate, which ensured no WFP ships have been hijacked since last November despite numerous attacks on other vessels, is due to end its tour of duty on June 25, the WFP said.
'Without escorts, our whole maritime supply route will be threatened,' the WFP's Somalia Country Director Peter Goossens said in a statement.

'Shipping companies are reluctant to sail unescorted to Somalia, and we have no offers to take over from the Royal Netherlands Navy,' he added.
'Millions of Somalis are suffering from a combination of insecurity, drought and high food and fuel prices,' said Goossens. 'If relief shipments slow down, we could face a major catastrophe.'

The WFP, which is trying to scale up operations to help feed the displaced, said that 80 per cent of its aid arrives by sea.

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