With an international naval force failing to defeat the scourge of piracy off Somalia diplomats have gathered in Brussels to see what they can do.
The international donors conference is intended to garner financial support to bolster security and stability in the country. Establishing a functioning central authority in Somalia is seen as a top priority. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Across all Somalia there must be responsible government of the people and for the people, and an end to “warlordism”, and an end to piracy and an end to years of profiteering by a self-appointed military caste. So, let today’s conference also begin to respond, in a fundamental way, to the daunting challenges faced by the Somali authorities in bringing back stablility and peace to their country. Security is the starting point but it cannot be the end point.” The European Commission has promised at least 60 million euros to combating piracy. It will go to local security initiatives and support the African Union’s operations in the country. The UN says at least twice that amount is needed tackle a problem that has caused havoc to international shipping in the region. Somali gangs have made vast sums seizing vessels in the Gulf of Aden in the key sea lanes linking Europe to Asia. Somali leaders have condemned companies who pay ransoms, saying it has simply boosted piracy. Foreign navies have managed to prevent some attacks and free a number of hostages, but there is consensus that the problem needs a broader approach.