Kenya on Thursday hosted an estimated 200 delegates from 68 countries amid renewed pledge to support innovative strategies aimed at eradicating the menace of piracy along the Somalia coastline.
The 21st Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) that was attended by ministers, diplomats and security experts vowed to inject fresh impetus on efforts to contain maritime security threats in Somalia and the western Indian Ocean territory.
Raychelle Omamo, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defense, said in her opening remarks at the forum that a re-invigorated approach to eradicate piracy in Somalia waters is critical to boost economic growth and stability in the Horn of Africa state.
“We must enhance collaboration to eliminate the challenge of piracy and other maritime security threats that are in many ways linked to under-development in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region,” Omamo said.
She noted that Kenya has rallied behind multinational efforts aimed at thwarting attacks on commercial vessels plying along the Somalia coastline.
Omamo emphasized that skills upgrade for Somalia Coast guard, cross-border intelligence sharing and investments in livelihood projects is key to eradicate piracy in Somalia waters.
“There is need to address the root causes of piracy that happens to be poverty, weak governance and inadequate policing,” said Omamo.
“Empowering jobless youth living in Somalia coastline will also discourage them from participating in piracy and other maritime crimes,” she added.
The Kenyan government in conjunction with multilateral partners hosted the three-day summit that is expected to come up with a comprehensive roadmap to revitalize the war against piracy off the coast of Somalia.
Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, the Mauritius Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chair of Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, said that a new paradigm shift was an imperative in order to defeat the menace of piracy and other maritime crimes along the Somalia coastline.
“The time is ripe to explore long-term solution to the piracy crisis in Somalia and momentum will be sustained if we prioritize investment in community livelihood projects and strengthening of maritime security through enhanced policing,” Lutchmeenaraidoo remarked.
He noted that international collaboration on maritime security coupled with capacity building of Somalia Coastguard and public awareness has led to a sharp drop in hijacking of commercial vessels.
Ahmed Kheyr Abdulkadir, the Somalia minister for foreign affairs, said Mogadishu has developed a robust counter-piracy strategy that blends military strength, diplomacy and community engagement to eradicate piracy.
“We are strengthening the capacity of coast guard to protect our waters while tackling illegal fishing and poverty that drives Somalia youth to piracy,” Abdulkadir said.