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Somali Police Force Inaugurates New Counter-Piracy Center

unsom
Courtesy UNSOM

Published Apr 8, 2022 7:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Somalia is enhancing vigilance against maritime piracy along its coastline with a new state-of-the-art facility for the Somali Police Force (SPF) Department of Coast Guard.

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 pirate threat remains alive, despite a long trend of suppression of attacks.

“In recent years Somalia has expanded its maritime law enforcement capability, allowing the SPF to deliver safety and security around Mogadishu Port and along Somalia’s coastline. This furnished and equipped base will allow the SPF to become increasingly more effective,” said Anita Kiki Gbeho, UN Secretary-General's deputy special representative for Somalia.

The facility will provide an operational base for SPF to enhance surveillance of pirate threates along international shipping routes, and it will also help the country expand its blue economy. Somalia controls vast areas of the Indian Ocean waters thanks to an 1,800 nm coastline.

“For Somalia to continue expanding its blue economy and benefit from the wealth-generating opportunities its vast coast offers, maritime security and law enforcement will need to continue playing an enabling role,” noted Gbeho.

Maritime piracy is currently near-zero along the Somalia shores, which were once considered the most dangerous area on the globe for mariners. Attacks attributed to Somali pirates peaked in 2011 when 237 incidents were recorded and has since fallen dramatically to just 14 between 2015 and 2020, a drop widely regarded as a result of joint efforts to reduce crimes at sea.

Last year in August, organizations representing the global shipping and oil industries resolved to drop Somalia from the High Risk Area (HRA) for piracy, a move that showed efforts to suppress attacks have largely bore fruits.

Although piracy and armed robbery along the Somali coastline have largely been contained, active piracy cells and networks in the country continue to pose real threats to the shipping industry. With Somalia currently embroiled in political turmoil, there are concerns that active piracy cells could sprout up.

The new facility forms part of the UN to support initiatives of states countering piracy off the coast of Somalia in the areas of capacity-building, regional prosecution, maritime law enforcement and maritime governance through a $15 million trust fund.

The facility consists of a furnished headquarters block with information technology equipment, a detention facility, a floating jetty and boat ramp and an accommodation unit.  

In addition, 60 police officers have been provided with training and workshops on maritime law enforcement, marine engineering and maritime communications.

“The SPF maritime law enforcement component will have a much, much more effective ability to operate and interact offshore and within the coastal areas of Somalia, to ensure maritime crime is reduced and effectively work forward on that,” said Tim Lardner, UN Office for Project Services Country Director for Somalia.