DUBAI — The UAE is pushing for a comprehensive regional strategy to combat maritime piracy while promoting private-public partnerships to contain the phenomenon which cost the world $7billion last year.
Dubai will be the venue for the second counter-piracy conference on June 27 and 28, and Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nayhan is looking at a long-term, sustainable solution to end the two-decade old problem. He said Somalia must be helped to mount an effective national challenge to beat back the sea brigands.
‘‘Our collective counter-piracy strategies must emphasise a long-term, sustainable solution. This must include empowering regional states to mount an effective national challenge to disrupt and defeat piracy groups operating off their shores through supporting the development of national response capacity. It must also include long-term strategies of humanitarian support that address the root causes of maritime piracy,’’ said Shaikh Abdullah in a statement.
The UAE is also taking the issue to the Arab League to help formulate a common response.
He said maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean is a ‘serious global concern’. This year’s conference will be attended by foreign ministers and senior government officials from over 50 countries as well as CEOs of maritime companies.
Ports major DP World will co-host the conference, and its Chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said the private sector has an important role to play in rooting out the problem. “We are of the view that collaboration through public-private partnership will go a long way in facilitating preventive measures and long term solutions to the problem.” According to International Maritime Bureau figures, suspected Somali pirates still hold 15 vessels with 253 crew members as hostages, with 49 crew members being held on land.
In the first quarter of the year, there were 43 attacks by Somalia pirates with nine ships hijacked and 144 crew taken hostage.
There has been an overall decline in pirate attacks with increased patrolling by three coalition navies in the region.
The International Maritime Bureau said the application of Best Management Practices and the hiring of privately contracted armed security personnel have also contributed to the decrease in the hijackings.