Nairobi (Alshahid) – The United Nations on Thursday opened an anti-piracy center in Kenya, the first of three planned information-sharing units designed to help fight the growing scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
The anti-piracy center, located in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, was inaugurated by Efthimios Mitropoulos, the Secretary-General of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is co-housing the center with IMO. The MRCC operates on a 24-hour basis and covers extensive areas of the western Indian Ocean.
The center was established under the Djibouti Code of Conduct on the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, the region most affected by pirates, most of them from Somalia.
The code of conduct, which took effect in 2009, is designed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against piracy. The other two information centers will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Sana’a, Yemen, as well as a training center for anti-piracy units in Djibouti.
The information-sharing centers will ensure coordinated, timely, and effective flow of information. They will be capable of receiving and responding to alerts and requests for information or assistance at all times.
Countries reporting to the Mombasa centre include the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya and, at a later date, Somalia. Furthermore, the three centers will work closely with the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), the United Kingdom’s Maritime Trade Operations and the Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain.
Somali pirates have hijacked hundreds of ships, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom. Ships are patrolling the shipping lanes near Somalia in an effort to reduce hijackings, but the anti-piracy force has warned that attacks are likely to continue.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has launched anti-piracy initiatives in the Horn of Africa to help tackling maritime piracy in the region. According to a recent study, maritime piracy cost the global economy up to USD 12 billion last year, with Somalia-based pirates responsible for 95 percent of the costs. –BNO News