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Germany

German Government Approves Anti-Piracy Mission

The German government has voted in favor of sending up to 1,400 soldiers and a warship to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. The operation will be part of the EU mission launched in early December.

A soldier aboard the Brandenburg frigate

The German government will send up to 1,400 soldiers on the mission

German lawmakers voted 491-55 in favor of sending the navy to join anti-piracy operations in the EU "Atalanta" mission. The German mandate will last one year and could cost the country an estimated 45 million euros ($64 million).

According to Social Democratic Party (SPD) foreign affairs expert Rolf Muetzenich, more than one third of the people in Somalia rely on aid from abroad, which reaches them almost exclusively via the sea. This is why the marine deployment is "first and foremost a humanitarian operation," Muetzenich said.

The German "Karlsruhe" frigate is already situated in the operational area and can begin the mission immediately. The EU "Atalanta" mission was launched on Dec. 8, 2008 with six warships and three air patrols. The operation is centered on protecting vessels of the World Food Program, as well as other unarmed merchant ships.

Piracy only part of bigger problem

A young girl scavenges for food in a rubbish dump in Africa

Piracy may be the immediate problem, but Somalia also needs developmental aid urgently

But Free Democratic Party (FDP) chairperson Birgit Homburger warned that a marine mission to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia only responds to one part of a larger problem, which is entrenched poverty in Somalia. Only developmental aid and diplomatic measures can help the situation in Somalia improve in the long run. "This problem cannot be solved with soldiers alone," she said.

Piracy has surged out of control this year in the Horn of Africa, as more than 200 ships have been attacked and around 40 seized.

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