x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

$1 million UAE grant will help us fight the pirates, says Somalia

With the initial million, Somalia will be able to set up a coastguard through the United Nations, official says.

DUBAI // A million-dollar grant from the Government will go to financing Somalia's navy and army.

The UAE is the first to dedicate funds to Somalia armament, according to Faris Mohammed Al Mazroui, assistant to the Foreign Minster for Security and Military Affairs.

"This initiative started by the UAE is expected to be developed with other countries. Our objective is to go for US$5million [Dh18.3m] and there are a lot of nations who showed interest," he said.

The $5m will be used primarily to develop a national guard in Somalia, Mr Al Mazroui explained.

"We need to set up a national guard base, equip them and train them, as well as provide boats."

With the initial million, he added, Somalia will be able to set up a coastguard through the United Nations.

"We will put the funds under the UN system, which will be worked out from now until September finding the right window and dimension to utilise it," he said.

According to the latest figures, 185 seafarers and 13 ships are currently held captive by Somali pirates.

"These are sailors from around the world. Some of these ships belong to UAE-based companies, although none is UAE flagged," he said.

The Somali deputy prime minister and minister of defence Hussien Arab Essa confirmed that developing a coastguard and naval capabilities was their first priority in the fight against piracy.

"We need to build our own coast guard and navy ... and eradicate the problem at its root," he said.

"Some funds will be used for programmes in the local coastal community to prevent them from joining the pirates."

Meanwhile, the Somalia foreign affairs minister, Abdullahi Hagi Hassan, reiterated his president's claim on Wednesday that his country could eradicate piracy in less than a year.

"We never had this problem in Somalia.

"We had a strong army and powerful navy and we can get it back if we redevelop them and apply them properly," he said.

"With only 10 per cent of what the international community is spending to police the waterways, we can end this issue."

amustafa@thenational.ae

rtalwar@thenational.ae