This past week, EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA attended the second Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean and the 22nd Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) organised the event with the European Union (EU) within the framework of the Maritime Security (MASE) Programme. In addition, EU NAVFOR met with representatives from Somalia during the “Maritime Security Coordination Committee” (MSCC).
The Ministerial Meeting and the Plenary Sessions of the Contact Group provide a platform to focus on the shared objective of deterring piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and to exchange views on wider maritime security threats. Both events are of importance as they allow various dignitaries, ministers and high officials of as well as representatives from international organisations to discuss the state and progress of Maritime Security in the region.
EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA, together with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), presented the military threat assessment to both the working groups and to the Plenary of the CGPCS. EU NAVFOR also took the opportunity to update Stakeholders on the status of the current judicial process with respect to the transfer and prosecution of the five suspected pirates arrested by EU NAVFOR Somalia in April 2019.
In its conclusions, the CGPCS Plenary called upon EU NAVFOR, CMF and Independent Deployers to maintain their presence off the coast of Somalia to prevent resurgence of piracy and related crime. The CGPCS Members also welcomed the progress in the establishment of a regional architecture of maritime security with the operationalisation of the Regional Centre for Operations Coordination (RCOCC) and the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in the Seychelles and in Madagascar.
It was decided at the 22nd CGPCS Plenary Sessions that Kenya will serve as chair of CGPCS for a period of two years beginning January 2020. As Chair, Kenya will coordinate regional and international efforts to manage the threat of piracy.
The European Union funds the MASE Programme, a regional programme that supports the implementation of the Regional Strategy and Action Plan to fight piracy and promote maritime security in the Eastern and Southern Africa–Indian Ocean. The MASE countries involve four main regional organisations: The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the IOC, and is also implemented in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Through the MASE Programme, the EU supports the RCOC in Seychelles and the RMIFC in Madagascar with equipment and training. The two regional centres are crucial in organising a more effective and coordinated fight against piracy in the high-risk area off the Horn of Africa. In addition the MASE programme funds activities aimed to improve the livelihoods in Somalia such as the Coastal Communities against Piracy Project, which is implement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO).