Somalia is increasing vigilance against maritime piracy along its coastline with a new state-of-the-art facility for the Somali Police Force (SPF) Coastguard Department.
The new facility, funded by the European Union and developed by the United Nations at a cost of $3 million, is designed to help SPF become more effective in combating piracy in Indian Ocean waters. The threat of hackers remains alive, despite a long trend of cracking down on attacks.
“In recent years, Somalia has expanded its maritime law enforcement capacity, enabling the SPF to provide safety and security around the port of Mogadishu and along the Somali coastline. This furnished and equipped base will enable the SPF to become increasingly effective,” said Anita Kiki Gbeho, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia.
The facility will provide an operational base for the SPF to strengthen monitoring of piracy threats along international shipping routes, and it will also help the country develop its blue economy. Somalia controls large areas of Indian Ocean waters thanks to a coastline of 1,800 nautical miles.
“For Somalia to continue to develop its blue economy and benefit from the wealth-generating opportunities offered by its vast coastline, maritime security and law enforcement will need to continue to play an enabling role,” Gbeho noted.
Maritime piracy is currently near zero along the Somali coast, which was once considered the most dangerous area in the world for seafarers. Attacks attributed to Somali pirates peaked in 2011 when 237 incidents were recorded and have since dropped dramatically to just 14 between 2015 and 2020, a drop widely seen as the result of joint efforts to reduce crime at sea.
In August last year, organizations representing the global shipping and oil industries decided to remove Somalia from the High Risk Area (HRA) for piracy, a decision which showed that efforts to suppress attacks have largely borne fruit.
Although piracy and armed robbery along the Somali coast has largely been contained, piracy cells and networks active in the country continue to pose real threats to the shipping industry. With Somalia currently in the throes of political turmoil, there are fears that active piracy cells are on the rise.
The new facility is part of the UN to support state initiatives against piracy off the coast of Somalia in the areas of capacity building, regional prosecutions, maritime law enforcement and maritime governance through a $15 million trust fund.
The facility consists of a headquarters furnished with computer equipment, a detention center, a floating jetty and boat launch, and an accommodation unit.
In addition, 60 police officers received training and workshops on maritime law enforcement, marine engineering and marine communications.
“The maritime law enforcement component of the FPS will have a much, much more effective ability to operate and interact off and in the coastal areas of Somalia, to ensure that maritime crime is reduced and work effectively in this direction,” said Tim Lardner, of the United Nations Office for Somalia National Director of Project Services.