Written By: Hesham Sami Al-Kibsi
At conference in Dubai Yemeni Foreign Minister Dr. Abu-Bakr al-Qirbi affirmed that Yemen is keen to support any efforts relating to combating naval piracy, stressing that Yemen had suffered from such criminal activities, having had countless fishing boats attacked by modern day pirates.In a speech at the 2nd Anti-naval Piracy Conference that was took place 27-28 of June 2012 al-Qirbi said “Piracy in the international waters in front of the Somali coasts and the Gulf of Aden has become a serious threat to the lives of thousands of Yemeni fishermen and their way of life, leading to the deprivation of thousands of Yemeni families.” Al-Qirbi mentioned that piracy has led to the hijacking of tens of commercial ships and many Yemeni fishing boats. 15 Yemeni fishermen lost their lives in 2011 in addition to mistaken identities incidents which led a number of Yemeni fishing boats to suffer the wrath of naval warships after having been identified as pirate boats. The FM clarified that piracy, along with the constant flow of thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, has doubled the burden and costs that are endured by the Yemeni government and increased the need for necessary equipment for the Yemeni navy and coastguards, in order to counter piracy and provide humanitarian aid for African refugees; and save those whose boats drown due to bad sea-conditions. Moreover the cruelty of smugglers led to a sharp rise in insurance costs for ships arriving to the region and a decrease of “visiting” ships to Yemen as fear of pirates forced companies to seek alternative maritime routes. The Yemeni tourism sector was also hit due to the refusal of yachts and passenger ships to enter the region. Al-Qirbi addressed Yemen’s deep concerns over the concrescence of international piracy that became one of the problems that the world faces, stressing it is considered a threat to the security of maritime navigation in one of the most important international routes. He called to unify regional and international efforts in order to eliminate piracy and hijacking, wherever they may occur, announcing the complete readiness of Yemen to work with the international community to successfully counteractpiracy. Al-Qirbi pointed out that despite much efforts, piracy was still flourishing in the Horn of Africa, calling on more actions on the ground. He considered piracy a normal result for the regression of political and security circumstances in Somalia through two decades with the spread of poverty and unemployment in that country, as well as the Somali governments’ inability to control Somali coastlines and international waters. “Yemeni losses due to piracy in the fishing industry exceeded $150 million in 2011” said al-Qirbi who showcased his argument by explaining that fear of violence had prevented Yemeni fishermen from peacefully conducting their activities, leading to a fall in production hence return. The FM noted that “mistaken identities” had traumatized many Yemeni fishermen and angered much of the fishing community. “Even though the naval forces operations in front of the Somali coastlines helped in partially stopping piracy, in the last period naval forces became a main cause in the halt of the fishing industry in the region” added al-Qirbi. He affirmed that some Yemeni fishermen had been shot at by both international forces and security teams onboard commercial ships clarifying that the lack of professionalism of many of these teams led to the injury of many Yemeni fishermen and most recently the killing of a Yemeni fisherman by a security team onboard a Norwegian ship. The FM reaffirmed Yemen’s commitment to protecting its regional waters and its readiness to cooperate with the international community in order to stabilize security in the gulf of Aden, the Arab Sea and the Red Sea, calling on all nations to respect the naval laws and sovereignty of countries in their regional waters as well as affirming the advancement of the capabilities of coastal countries close to Somalia in order to help end piracy in the international waters in front of the Somali coasts and gulf of Aden. The FM demanded the uplift of the competence of regional cooperation through activating piracy and hijacking information exchange centers including the Regional Naval Information Exchange Center in Sana’a, as well as activating communication links in the counties that signed the Djibouti behavior record and seeking a framework to transform the recording into a binding document.
Al- Qirbi asked to provide support to the Regional Naval Information Exchange Center in Sana’a and offer technical and material support in order for the center to perform its duties along with providing guarding boats and coastline surveillance equipment for Yemeni coastguards.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via yobserver.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com