France submits anti-pirate plan to the UN

France proposed a resolution to the UN Security Council, calling for a concerted military plan against pirates operating off Somalia. The ungoverned waters are considered to be among the world's most dangerous.


France on Friday circulated a draft resolution in the Security Council urging states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to join in the fight against rampant piracy off the coast of lawless Somalia.

The text "calls upon all states interested in the safety of maritime activities to actively take part in the fight against piracy against vessels off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft."

It urges states with naval vessels and military aircraft operating on the high seas and airspace off the Somali coast "to take all necessary measures, in conformity with international law ... for the prevention and repression of acts of piracy."

Last June, the Security Council had adopted a resolution empowering states to send warships into Somalia's territorial waters with the government's consent to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The waters off Somalia -- which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity -- are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world.

The June resolution gave a six-month mandate to states cooperating with Somalia's transitional government (TFG) in fighting piracy to "enter the territorial waters of Somalia for the purposes of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."

But calls for an international naval anti-piracy drive off Somalia mounted this week in the face of almost daily attacks on ships and trawlers in the area.

Dozens of ships, mainly merchant vessels, have been seized by pirates off Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coastline.

The pirates operate high-powered speedboats and are heavily armed, sometimes holding ships for weeks until they are released for large ransoms paid by governments or owners.

Tuesday, the UN World Food Programme welcomed an European Union agreement to set up a "coordination unit" to help tackle the growing problem but the EU is only mulling whether to set up naval mission in future.

Conflict, drought and rising food prices are threatening an unprecedented humanitarian disaster in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

Pirate attacks on ships bringing food aid and supplies by sea have further complicated relief deliveries.

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