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EU extends Somalia anti-piracy operation by two years

An armed pirate surveys the Somali coastline/AFP

An armed pirate surveys the Somali coastline/AFP

BELGIUM, Brussels, Nov 28 – The European Union on Monday extended its Somalia anti-piracy operation for another two years until end-2018 as NATO wound up its involvement, with virtually no attacks reported in recent years.

The EU launched EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta in 2008 as pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa increased sharply in an offshoot from Somalia’s civil war, with NATO providing ships and aircraft as well.

A statement by the European Council, which groups the EU’s 28 member states, said they agreed to provide 11 million euros ($11.3 million) to fund Atalanta for the next two years.

In addition to countering pirates, Atalanta also protects World Food Programme vessels and other shipping, monitors fishing off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region, the statement said.

The EUNAVFOR website shows pirate attacks peaked at 176 in 2011, falling sharply since then to just one so far this year.

NATO said separately it was winding down its involvement as the mission had “achieved its strategic objectives.”

The threat was likely to remain low but the US-led alliance “stands ready to quickly resume counter-piracy patrols if necessary,” a NATO official said.

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