The European Union has decided to extend for one year its antipiracy navy operation off the coast of Somalia.
EU to extend antipiracy operation
The European Union has decided to extend for one year its antipiracy navy operation off the coast of Somalia. EU foreign ministers approved the extension without discussion, prolonging well in advance the EU's Operation Atalanta until December 13, 2010 to leave time to look for more forces for the mission. The EU ministers agreed that "piracy off the coast of Somalia was likely to remain a serious threat," a statement said.
The extension was made now because "early agreement on extending the operation would facilitate the necessary force generation." International navies have deployed dozens of warships around the Gulf of Aden during the past year, to try to curb attacks by pirates threatening the busy maritime trade route. Nato defence ministers agreed on Friday to set up a longer-term mission. Ecoterra International, a green non-governmental group monitoring illegal marine activities in the region, says Somali pirates have carried out at least 126 attacks so far this year, including 44 successful sea-jackings.
They captured 49 ships last year. At last count, 14 ships were still being held by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, together with more than 200 seamen, almost a quarter of them Filipinos. The head of the EU naval mission has said piracy can only be eradicated with measures in Somalia, where close to two decades of war and lawlessness have made piracy one of the few viable businesses.