Somalia: NATO Task Group of Operation Allied Provider has begun escort duties

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Naples, 27 October 2008 - The NATO Task Group of Operation ALLIED PROVIDER has begun escort duties and established a naval presence in the assigned operational area. The Greek Frigate HS Themistokles is currently escorting a World Food Program (WFP) chartered vessel en route from a port in Southern Africa to Somalia.

In the past few days the Italian destroyer ITS Durand de la Penne escorted a merchant vessel chartered by the African Union (AU) while enroute to a port in Somalia. The escort was approved by the North Atlantic Council in consideration of the favorable position of the NATO ship and in the absence of concurrent escorting requirements related to the WFP food delivery. NATO has been assisting the AU Mission in Somalia since 2007 by providing airlift support.

The third ship in the Task Group, the British frigate HMS Cumberland, has been conducting surveillance and deterrence activities.

"I am glad this operation is off to a good start, with practical support for both the World Food Program and the African Union" said NATO Secretary General, Jaap do Hoop Scheffer. "This demonstrates the real-world value of cooperation between international organisations".

Operation Allied Provider is conducted by a Task Group from the NATO Standing Maritime Group 2, commanded by Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero, Italian Navy. The mission assigned to the operation is to conduct maritime operations off the coast of Somalia in order to allow WFP to fulfil its mission of providing humanitarian aid and to help deter, defend and disrupt against pirate activities in the area of operations.

The operation is conducted in response to the request by the United Nations Secretary General and in support of UN Security Council resolutions 1814,1816 and 1838. The NATO ability to respond to this request is a clear demonstration of Alliance flexibility, notably in the maritime field, and its ability to meet the variety of challenges posed in today's security environment.