India has termed as “worrisome” the increase in attacks by pirates off the coast of Somalia, calling on the international community to adopt a comprehensive counter-piracy strategy to deal with the problem.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said such a counter piracy strategy should involve effective sanitisation of the Somali coastline and enactment of national laws on a priority basis to criminalise piracy.

It should also involve naval operations by UN-led anti-piracy force as well as coordination of anti-piracy operations by various naval forces, Mr. Puri said at an open debate on Somalia at the UN Security Council here yesterday.

Mr. Puri said a number of seafarers, including over 30 Indians, are currently being held as hostages by pirates adding that the humanitarian condition of the hostages is a source of “serious concern” for the Indian government.

“What is more worrisome is that attacks by pirates have been increasing in spite of counter-piracy operations. Given the growing scope and expanding coverage of piracy off the coast of Somalia, the international community has to think about adopting a comprehensive counter-piracy strategy,” Mr. Puri said.

He said India, on its part, continues to undertake anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and has deployed its ships in the Eastern and North Eastern Arabian Sea.

Piracy in the region threatens to impact global maritime trade, a large part of which passes through the Gulf of Aden.

Mr. Puri said while significant gains have been made in the last one year by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in securing Mogadishu and other areas in south and central Somalia, terror group Al Shabaab with its recent affiliation to Al Qaeda remains a serious threat to peace and stability in Somalia and the larger region.

Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions need to “consolidate the gains made by AMISOM by urgently addressing the issues of governance and basic services in areas recovered from Al Shabaab,” Mr. Puri said.

India welcomed the adoption of an UN Security Council resolution, which provides for force enablers and multipliers for AMISOM and also expands the UN support package.

This would help AMISOM sanitise the Somali coastline and deprive Al Shabaab of revenues earned from port facilities and export of charcoal, the Indian envoy added.

Mr. Puri said India, which made an uncaveated $2 million contribution in 2011 to the African Union and UN Trust Funds for AMISOM, stands ready to provide further support to AMISOM.

It will also continue to extend help to Somalia in capacity building through human resource development.

India has increased the number of scholarships for Somali students and experts, besides contributing in the information technology sector in Somalia.

“We will continue to partner with Somali authorities as they work towards turning a new page,” Mr. Puri said.

Along with the AMISOM operations, Somali stakeholders have to build on the gains in the field of security through progress on the political track.

The drafting and adoption of a new constitution and its endorsement by a constituent assembly should remain a priority task, he added.

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