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UN Security Council Backs Force Against Pirates
The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) has agreed to establish a 'high risk area' covering most of the Gulf of Aden with immediate effect.
New York , October 9, 2008 – The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday urging states to commit naval and air forces to the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia .
The French drafted text authorizes the use of force against the pirates, who are holding at least a dozen ships and more than 250 seafarers hostage.
Two French Navy corvettes were already due to start escorting convoys of merchant ships across the Gulf of Aden this week, assisted by a Spanish reconnaissance plane. A naval force comprising vessels from ten EU countries is expected in the Gulf later this year.
Resolution 1838 'calls upon all states interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft' and urges them to 'use the necessary means, in conformity with international law, for the repression of acts of piracy'.
The Gulf of Aden is one of the world's major seaways but the waters off Somalia , which has not had a functional central government for almost 20 years, are currently the most dangerous on the planet. Heavily armed pirates operating in mother craft based speedboats are seizing mostly merchant ships off the 2,300 miles of Somalia 's largely unmonitored coastline and have held them and their crews for weeks until ransoms are paid. One of the ships currently held is the Ukrainian ro-ro Faina which has been held since 25 September along with its controversial cargo of military tanks and other weaponry.
Held for even longer are the 22 crew of the chemical tanker Stolt Valor, whose vessel was hijacked on 15 September in the Gulf of Aden . Food and water are reported to be running out and living conditions are becoming increasingly unhygienic, with all crew made to stay on the bridge and share a single toilet. An initial demand for $6m ransom has been reduced to $2m.
The London based International Transport Workers' Federation welcomed the UN Security Council resolution. ITF general secretary David Cockroft said, 'We're delighted the Security Council has responded to our, the shipping industry, and the IMO's direct appeal for this action. It is further support for those naval forces seeking to close with the pirates who have turned the Gulf into a war zone and a reminder to the navies who haven't done so that it is now time to act.'