International alert to combat Somali piracyYemen as an international center for information exchange [Archives:2008/1191/Local News]

September 18 2008

By: Aqeel Al-Halali
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A, Sept. 16 Twenty Asian and African countries will sign an international memorandum of understanding concerning piracy, next week in Sana'a. The agreement includes the selection of Yemen as an international center for coordination, liaison and information exchange to combat armed maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

An official source in the Yemeni Ministry of Transportation said that the memorandum, which will be approved during the second regional meeting for countries of the West Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, will include the selection of a second center in Kenya or Tanzania to combat piracy in the East African region.

The meeting comes after Somali pirates broke the record in their operations which target ships and tankers. Since this January, the number of pirate acts in the Gulf of Aden has reached 36 operations compared with 25 during the last year.

The Yemeni government has approved last week the establishment of three anti-piracy centers, particularly after Yemeni economists warned of the risks of piracy on the national economy. They said the negative impact of piracy is the increase in the cost of insurance for ships that reach the region, which in turn results in raising the cost of items.

In the meantime, the European Union Foreign Affairs Ministers approved last Tuesday a special unit for patrolling the waters along the Somali coast in order to protect the navigation from the piracy escalating therein.

European countries have recently sent fighter ships to the Gulf of Aden in order to free maritime tankers and hostages kidnapped by Somali pirates. The European Union's decision came a day after a military operation carried out by the French army was able to set two French hostages free.

The hostages had been kidnapped by Somali pirates, for the second time during the last five months. Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, who ordered the execution of the military operation, called for “international alert”” to combat piracy acts in the region.

The French press agency reported that Sarkozy said