Twelve years on and the rationale for the EU NavFor Operation Atalanta Somalia has changed and the mission has a new mandate and a two year life extension.
The new mandate, which became effective on 1 January this year, sees existing taskings added in reinforcing Atalanta’s role as a maritime security provider. At the same time the operation will build on past successes in protecting WFP (World Food Programme) ships – its primary tasking when first operationalised – as well as other ships deemed vulnerable off Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa.
An Operation statement has it “new non-executive tasks” including IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, drugs, weapons and charcoal trafficking will be implanted while preparations are underway for formalising executive tasks regarding illegal drugs and weapons trafficking. These will be enforced in a specific area of the Gulf of Aden.
“The adjustments will increase the Operation’s maritime domain awareness, resulting in a more efficient counter-piracy mission and reinforcing EU NavFor’s role as a maritime security provider in line with the EU Maritime Security Strategy. They will also reassure the shipping industry in supporting freedom of navigation and trade.
“The decision based on a holistic and co-ordinated strategic review of an EU Council decision regarding engagement in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, with the aim of consolidating and strengthening EU response by developing the security context and enhancing its role as a security provider. This is in the context of the EU Global Strategy for the foreign and security policy of the European Union,” the statement reads.
EUNavFor Atalanta has its roots in the frame of the European Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Going back to 2008 an EU statement said the bloc “is concerned with the effect of Somali-based piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean”.
“Somali-based piracy is characterised by criminals taking control of vessels transiting the region’s high risk area and extorting ransom money for crew, vessel and cargo. This bears the hallmarks of organised crime. Crews held hostage by pirates often face a prolonged captivity, on average five months, although some hostages were held for almost three years. Piracy also impacts on international trade and maritime security and on economic activities and security of countries in the region.”