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Regional Conference on Sea Security Begins in Sana'a
  Written By: (YEMEN POST STAFF) 
  Article Date:
February 10, 2009


A regional conference on sea security started Tuesday in Sana'a with piracy, a recently soaring phenomenon off the coast of Somalia, dominating the discussions of the first day of the two-day meeting.  

At the conference attended by regional and international officials, diplomats and military commanders, head of the National Coastguard Ali Rasi said Yemen is looking forward to a vital role in the fight on piracy which he says will not be tackled except through cooperation and coordination between the region countries and other international countries using the sea lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Bab El-Mandab Strait.   

He highlighted the repercussions of piracy laying more financial burdens on the country besides economic and social effects associated with the flow of African refugees into the country.  

"With such effects of piracy the costs of requirements the National Coastguard needs to achieve its duties well raise, a matter which requires better regional cooperation," Rasi said.  

"Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia's coast has more than doubled in 2008, forcing many ships reroute and leading to the increase in insurance costs."  

The maritime piracy is considered one of the most dangerous terrorist acts as it targets safe people and their properties in international waters, he said.  

In 2008, pirates stepped up their attacks against merchant vessels and ships in the region with almost 140 ships including a Ukrainian ship carrying weapons for Kenya and a Saudi supertanker carrying 2 million barrels of oil worth $ 100 million attacked.  

Rasi hoped the conference will produce positive outcomes to serve the countries concerned about piracy in the area particularly the 8 industrialized nations.  

However, he urged the international coalition forces to exercise maximum vigilance while hunting pirates to avoid attacking fishing boats.  

"Many Yemeni fishermen with low knowledge depend on traditional fishing for living," he says.  

In last month, a French and a Russian helicopters of those affiliated to international coalition forces in the Indian Ocean hit two Yemeni boats separately killing two sailors and injuring several others. The warplanes suspected the boats were for pirates.  

At the meeting, the British ambassador in Sana'a Tim Torlo spoke on behalf of the donors of the African Horn countries stressing the significance of international cooperation to combat piracy and finding solutions to it.

He also stressed the importance of providing more support for Yemen to enable it to combat piracy and other challenges such as the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people.  

The French ambassador to Yemen reviewed the navy operations the French forces carry out to fight piracy and modern ways they follow in doing their job.   

For his part, the commander of the European Union Navy Force in the Indian Ocean talked about the force's mission and the strategy of the coalition forces at the African Horn and introduced the attendants to the role of the coalition forces in the region.  

Other participants who included the Somali Interior Minister and heads of the Polish and Djiboutian Coastguards highlighted the current situation, stressing the importance of boosting regional cooperation to tackle piracy.  

They also underlined the most important requirements of coastguards to fight piracy such as training and financial resources.