A Dutch sailor watches for suspected pirates off the coast of
Mogadishu, Somalia, as part of the EU's Operation Atalanta. The EU is
considering helping Somalia establish it own coast guard. (Simon Maina
/ Agence France-Presse)DefenseNews
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
The European Union wants to help Somalia establish a coast guard service to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa.
possibility of a Somali coast guard was discussed during a a press
conference by Etienne de Poncins, head of the EU’s regional maritime
capacity-building mission, known as EUCAP Nestor.
“There is no
coast guard in Somalia at all. There are the Puntland maritime police
forces, but no national coast guard,” de Poncins said.
a Somali coast guard will be discussed later this year during a
strategic review of the maritime training mission to the Horn of Africa
and the western Indian Ocean.
EUCAP Nestor’s primary mission is to
provide training and advice for legal systems, but it can also supply
training equipment, de Poncins said. Its main focus is Somalia, which de
Poncins described as “the most important because it has the longest
coastline and because many pirates come from Somali.”
Nestor’s annual budget is €23 million (US $31 million), with “a few
million euro available for equipment such as life jackets, night
goggles, communications or health equipment, but not vessels,” he said.
There are three EU advisers in legal teams drafting legislation to
counter piracy who are well placed to identify needs, he said, after
which EU funding programs will be launched.
The mission maintains
close contact with the central federal government and the Somaliland and
Puntland regional bodies. It has held a training seminar on anti-piracy
legislation with prosecutors and judges in the capital of Puntland.
Discussions are ongoing between the regional governments and central
government about a Somali maritime strategy, which will also address the
coast guard issue.
Currently, the oceans off the Horn of Africa
are being patroled by EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta. According to
information provided by the Operation Atalanta headquarters in London,
27 countries contribute about 1,200 personnel to the mission.
composition of the naval force changes constantly due to the frequent
rotation of units. Typically, there are four to seven surface combat
vessels and two to four maritime patrol aircraft in the region.