UN Special Representative welcomes EU's anti-piracy force for Somalia

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Nairobi, 11 November 2008 - The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has warmly welcomed the agreement by European Union member states to send ships to combat piracy off Somalia, now regarded as the world's most dangerous seas.

"I am extremely pleased by the EU's decision," said Mr Ould-Abdallah. "Piracy off the Somali coast is posing a serious threat to the freedom of international navigation and regional security. It has led to increased prices of food and fuel which have had a direct impact on the lives of the poor in the region. It also poses a serious threat to the environment through attacks on oil tankers and other ships.

"The EU agreement is an important and timely move and I am hopeful it will have a positive impact on this terrible scourge."

The EU's naval mission, planned to be in place by next month, is expected to protect vulnerable vessels of the coast of Somalia and the delivery of aid. Mr Ould-Abdallah said that the force would need strong and credible rules of engagement to ensure it was effective.

NATO has already sent a fleet to protect food shipments to Somalia and other countries have sent warships. The EU force is expected to put into practice UN Security Council Resolutions 1838 and 1816 in June, allowing ships to enter Somali waters to combat piracy.

Mr Ould-Abdallah said his office was organizing an international conference on piracy at Ministerial level on 3 December in Nairobi. A large attendance is expected.

"I hope all Somali patriots will give their full support to efforts to end the piracy which is tarnishing their country's image. It is not up to individuals to carry out law enforcement - this is the responsibility of Government institutions. We hope the implementation of the Djibouti Agreement will help Somalis to restore security and safety on land and sea."

For more information please contact: Susanna Price, Public Information Officer, UN Political Office for Somalia (Nairobi, Kenya ) Tel. +254 20 762 1192 (o) or +254 733 902020 (m).