The UN World Food Program on Sunday appealed for high-level
international action to stamp out piracy in waters off Somalia,
warning that the flow of relief supplies to the country was under
In a statement issued in Nairobi, the world's largest
humanitarian lifeline said increased piracy off the coast of
Somalia is threatening its ability to fee millions of hungry
"We urge key nations to do their utmost to address this plague
of piracy, which is now threatening our ability to feed one million
Somalis," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran in a
The appeal followed the killing of a Somali guard who helped
repulse a new pirate attack on Saturday on a ship that had just
delivered WFP food assistance to the Somali port of Merka.
Consequently, the agents of a WFP-contracted vessel early Sunday
refused to allow the ship loaded with food to sail for Somalia.
"This attack underscores the growing problem of piracy off
Somalia which, if unresolved, will sever the main artery of food
assistance to the country and to the people who rely on it for
their survival," warned Sheeran.
"Unless action is taken now, not only will our supply lines
becut, but also those of other aid agencies working in various
WFP said shipping is the main and fastest route it uses to move
large amounts of agency's food to Somalia.
In this latest of a series of pirate attacks, the
Jordanian-registered MV Victoria sent out a distress call when it
came under attack on Saturday from pirates aboard boats about 60
nautical miles from Merka, south of Mogadishu, en route to the
Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam after discharging 4,000 metric tons
of WFP food.
The owner relayed the message to the Merka agent of the Somali
contractor who chartered the Victoria to carry WFP food." He sent
out guards in two boats who intercepted the pirates before they
could board the ship.
One guard was wounded in an exchange of fire and later died in
Merka hospital. The Victoria returned to Merka port after the
"WFP is very saddened and alarmed by the death of the guard, who
showed great courage while the ship came under attack. We send our
sincere condolences to his family," said Sheeran.
Despite major operational and security challenges, WFP said it
continues to deliver food to thousands of vulnerable Somalis. Last
Friday, WFP began a new round of distributions to a total of
122,500 people forced to flee fighting in Mogadishu.
It said distributions are continuing in the Somali capital as
well as in Baidoa to the northwest, Afgoye west of the capital,
Brava town and Qoryoley district southwest of the capital. Pirates
have hijacked at least five ships off Somalia this year, including
two in the past week.
Several unsuccessful attacks have also been recently
In 2005, a similar upsurge of piracy in Somali waters, including
the hijacking of two WFP-chartered vessels, forced the UN agency to
suspend all deliveries of WFP food assistance by sea to Somalia for
The UN estimates that between 300,000 and 400,000 people fled
Mogadishu since February 1.
(Xinhua News Agency May 21, 2007)