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WFP warns piracy threatens humanitarian aid to Somalia
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16:28, October 23, 2007

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The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday condemned the attempted pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, the latest incident in pirate-infested Somali waters.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, the WFP reiterated its call for deployment of foreign naval vessels to protect food aid in Somali waters, warning that rampant piracy off the coast of the war-ravaged nation is threatening humanitarian aid.

"WFP remains extremely concerned about piracy off Somalia, particularly as it appears that as the monsoon season has ended, the pirate season has begun," WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said in a statement.

Early on Sunday, WFP received a distress call from a Somali contractor who came under attack from pirates in two speed boats off the Somali port of Brava, south of Mogadishu.

The Comoran-flagged MV Jaikur II had just unloaded some 7,000 tons of food and was sailing back to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

Although the vessel and its crew escaped unhurt,the agency said it remains very concerned about piracy off the Somali coast and appealed to the international community to help secure the waters off Somalia and protect humanitarian deliveries.

"WFP reiterates its calls for foreign powers to send naval vessels to waters off Somalia to hunt down the pirates and protect the transport of humanitarian assistance," Smerdon said.

"This was the third attack this year on a ship contracted to carry WFP food to Somalia," he said.
Smerdon said arrangements were being made for a French naval vessel to escort ships carrying WFP food to Mogadishu since next month.

Some 80 percent of WFP food assistance for Somalia moves by sea, and pirate attacks threaten to cut the main supply route, jeopardizing rations for the 1.2 million people WFP expects to be feeding by the end of 2007 as drought, floods and factional fighting take their toll.

The latest incident comes as Kenyan maritime official said Monday another Comoran-flagged MV Al Marjan was hijacked last week off the Somali coast as it sailed to Mogadishu port from the United Arab Emirates port of Dubai.

The International Maritime Board has warned of an alarming increase in piracy in Somali waters and has urged ships to avoid the area.

Over the weekend, Mwangura said two smaller fishing vessels were hijacked by gunmen off the Somalia coast, adding that one of the boats had been fired upon.

Source: Xinhua



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