The UN World Food Program has suspended aid deliveries to Somalia by ship because of pirate attacks. And it’s calling on the international community to act, so it can ensure food deliveries to about one million Somalis.
Peter Smerdon is a spokesman for the WFP. From Nairobi, he spoke to Joe De Capua about the threat being posed by pirates.
“On Saturday, a ship carrying 4,000 tons of World Food Program food docked in the port of Merka, just south of Mogadishu. Unloaded its food and then started heading out empty, returning to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. And then 100 kilometers south of Merka, it was attacked by pirates. The contractor in Merka, who heard about this attack and therefore sent two speedboats with gunmen after the ship and they engaged the pirates. There was a firefight and one of the guards was wounded and later died in Merka hospital. They did, however, succeed in stopping the pirates from getting aboard the ship and no one was harmed and the ship was not damaged,” he says.
However, the fallout from Saturday’s incident led to the WFP suspending aid by ship. Smerdon says, “On Sunday, a shipper in Mombassa in Kenya heard about the Merka attack. And he had been due to send his ship offloaded with World Food program food back to Somalia on Sunday morning and he said it’s simply too risky. I’m not going to do it. So he refused to send the ship to Somalia, quite understandably in many ways.”
Smerdon says that the food operation in Somalia needs a “continual supply chain of ships” to keep the supplies flowing. He adds that international action is needed to stamp out piracy off the coast of Somalia.