The European Foreign Affairs Council has agreed to extend the mandate of the EU naval operation to countering piracy European Naval Force Somalia - Operation ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR - ATALANTA) until December 2014.
The current mandate expires in December this year.
The Council which met at Brussels on Monday, commended the significant contribution of EUNAVFOR Atalanta to countering piracy.
Since its launch in December 2008, ATALANTA has been successfully escorting the World Food Program (WFP) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) shipments to Somalia, protecting the most vulnerable shipping and deterring, preventing and repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. This has helped contribute to the security and economic activity of the countries in the region and of the international community as a whole.
The EU's counter-piracy operation is conducted within the comprehensive approach as set out in the EU Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa and as part of the overall international effort for Somalia and the wider region as most recently outlined during the London conference on Somalia.
Under the ATALANTA operation, several warships and reconnaissance aircraft have been deployed for patrolling the vast and dangerous regions in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Several NATO and EU-member countries have contributed to the naval patrols.
But piracy continues to be a menace on the vital sea route in the Arabian Sea between Yemen and Somalia, which connects the Gulf and Asia to Europe and beyond via the Suez Canal. It is critical to Gulf oil shipments.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), in a report published in July last year, asserted the need for sustained or increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.
by RTT Staff Writer
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