Friday, September 19, 2008

WFP-Chartered Aid Ship Arrives In Somalia Under Escort

A ship ferrying UN food aid arrived in Somalia's Mogadishu port Thursday escorted by a Canadian frigate to deter an attack by pirates. The Golina carried 4,000 tonnes of food to the war-torn country, where at least 3.2 million people are facing shortages, an AFP correspondent aboard the Canadian frigate Ville de Qebec reported. The World Food Programme-chartered ship will spend four days offloading its cargo while the frigate returns to the Kenyan port of Mombasa to escort a second ship to Somalia. African Union troops in Mogadishu are providing security. With rampant piracy and rising insecurity in Somalia, sea transport is the last lifeline for the hunger-stricken Somalis.
HMCS Ville de Quebec
The WFP has called on other countries to take over from Canada, whose escorts end on September 27, to provide protection for its shipments. France was the first country to provide naval escorts that started in November. Somali pirates seized a Greek ship on Thursday, a day after taking a Hong Kong-flagged vessel in the latest in a string of attacks that have prompted calls for international action. According to the International Maritime Board, 55 ships have been attacked off Somalia since January and 11 are still being held for ransom. Somalia's long coastline is infested with pirates, making the Gulf of Aden and neighbouring parts of the Indian Ocean among the most dangerous waterways in the world.

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