Monday, May 19, 2008

Jordan Fflagged Ship Believed Hijacked Off Somalia Coast

A Jordanian-flagged cargo ship was reported missing about 40 nautical miles off the capital Mogadishu, after communications with the vessel were lost, Minister of Transport Alaa Batayneh told reporters. "Contacts with the 'Victoria', a Jordan-flagged ship, was lost at 8:00am Saturday while it was making its way from India to Mogadishu. It is believed that the ship was subjected to piracy," said Batayneh, pointing out that the ship, owned by the UAE, was carrying 4,200 tonnes of sugar from Denmark donated as humanitarian aid to the citizens of the Somali capital. According to Batayneh, none of the ship's 12 crew members were Jordanians. They included Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Tanzanian nationalities, said the minister. Batayneh said the ministries of transport and foreign affairs are coordinating efforts with relevant authorities to ensure the release of the ship and its crew.He added that Denmark, under an agreement with Jordan, provides protection to ships carrying Jordanian flag in the Somali waters. The minister said he instructed the Jordanian maritime authorities to issue a second warning to Jordanian ships and ships carrying the Jordanian flag to avoid sailing through the Somali coast. Around 40 ships of different nationalities carry the Jordanian flag. In return Jordan provides administrative assistance to these vessels in international ports, while their protection is the responsibility of countries in which these ships dock. Last month, four countries introduced a draft resolution at the UN Security Council, urging maritime powers to fight piracy off Somalia's coast and authorising them to arrest pirates in Somali waters. The resolution is aimed at combating a surge in ship hijackings for ransom in waters off the coast of lawless Somalia which has made them one of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

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