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Marines to See Action?

DW staff (nda)November 21, 2008

The United Nations has imposed new sanctions on Somali officials as Germany promised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assistance in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa.

German UN peacekeepers on board a German navy vessel
German marines could soon engage Somali pirates and may be included in a UN peace forceImage: AP

Citing the continued lack of security in Somalia as a threat to international peace and security, the UN Security Council on Thursday, Nov. 20, imposed a travel ban and a freeze of financial assets on some individuals considered obstacles to the peace process.

The council also imposed an arms embargo on those individuals or groups to be designated by a UN committee.

The measures are not related to the waves of hijackings of ships by pirates of the Somali coast, but are aimed at strengthening the process of ending lawlessness and violence destabilizing the transitional government.

German defense minister Franz-Josef Jung meets German troops in Afghanistan
Jung says Germany will offer its assistance to the UNImage: picture-alliance / dpa

South Africa's UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said the humanitarian situation in Somalia has continued to deteriorate while the fighting has displaced a high number of people.

"Lasting peace will continue to elude us as long as certain groups remain outside of the peace process and we call on them to lay down their arms and become warriors for peace instead of being agents of war," Kumalo said.

The council was considering deploying a peacekeeping operation to assist the transitional government carry out the peace program to end the civil war ravaging Somalia for years.

Germany ready for UN anti-piracy measures

In dealing with the surge in piracy in the Gulf of Aden the international community needs a clear operation plan, said German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

"Where German interests are concerned, we will ensure that a condemnation of the pirates takes place," said the defense minister.

"With the new mandate of the European Union we can fight pirates still more effectively," promised Jung.

A German marine looks through a gun sight on a ship off the Horn of Africa
Marines have already has pirates in their sightsImage: AP

On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the German navy was preparing to take part in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden as the bandits step up their attacks off the Somali coast.

"I hope that in the next few days we'll have reached a decision," Steinmeier said during a visit to India, two days after the Indian Navy sank a pirate ship for the first time off the coast of Somalia.

The German parliament, the Bundestag, is to decide in December whether to participate in the European Union's operations against Somali piracy.

The German government is seeking clarification of the powers their soldiers would have in the region.

German marines already seeing action

Steinmeier's comments come after a German frigate foiled the attempted seizures by heavily armed bandits of two ships in the increasingly pirate-infested seas off northern Somalia, the navy said on Tuesday.

On Monday the Ethiopian cargo ship Andinet radioed for help, saying it was under attack from two small motorboats in the Gulf of Aden 650 kilometers (400 miles) north-east of Djibouti and 50 kilometers south of the Yemeni coast, the German navy said.

The German frigate Karlsruhe, which was 20 kilometers away, dispatched a Sea Lynx helicopter and the two motorboats "left at high speed," the statement said.

EU mission to begin in early December

A German marine on patrol on a ship off the Horn of Africa
Germany will be ready to engage, said SteinmeierImage: picture-alliance / dpa

The Germans are in the Gulf of Aden as part of the European Union's security operation off the coast of Somalia -- its first-ever naval mission -- which was agreed upon earlier this month and will combat the growing acts of piracy and help protect aid ships.

Dubbed Operation Atalanta, the mission was endorsed by the bloc's defense ministers at talks in Brussels on Nov.10. The EU's mission is set to begin on Dec. 8.

The so-called EUNAVOR operation is made up of seven ships, three of them frigates and one a supply vessel. It is also supported by surveillance aircraft.

It includes contributions from eight to 10 countries including France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, with Portugal, Sweden and non-EU member Norway also likely to take part in future missions.