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Dutch turn to escort Somali food aid
Nairobi, April 04, 2008 – The Danish Navy Thursday handed over the role of escorting World Food Programme vessels ferrying food aid to Somalia to the Dutch Navy.
In an elaborate ceremony at Mombassa Port, a Danish vessel, HDMS Thetis handed over the role to Dutch ship Hr Ms Evertsen.
This is the third time that the handing over takes place after the French, who initiated the idea of ship escorts, handed over to the Danes.
WFP country director for Somalia, Mr. Peter Goossens said fears that they might fail to help starving Somalis have been allayed.
The cost of transporting the food aid had also been reduced because of enhanced security, he said.
WFP-chartered food aid vessels have been hijacked three times in the recent past by pirates and vessel owners forced to pay huge ransoms to secure the release of their ships and crew.
Since the use of escorts began last year, Mr Goossens said, the WFP has transported over 90,000 tones of food aid to over 2.1 million Somalis between mid-November last year and March this year. The WFP expects to feed over 1.8 million people this year.
This figure is expected to go up because there are fears that the long rains may not be adequate.
A total of 31 acts of piracy were reported off the Somali Coast in 2007.
“From mid-November 2007 the ships chartered by WFP have been supported by warships on the request of the United Nations.
“Some of the food aid, which has been brought ashore by the WFP chartered ships, has already been used for the famished people who fled from conflict torn Mogadishu,” said Rear Admiral Nils Wang, head of the Danish Navy.
Source: Daily Nation