The United States has expressed concerns over secretly funded anti-piracy militia training to battle pirates and stop criminal activities in Somalia. The U.S State Department is worried that the training may break a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia following the 20 years civil war that shattered the country.
According to reports, an anonymous Muslim country is backing the anti-piracy militia being created in Somalia semi-autonomous region known as Puntland. And due to the uncertain identity and aims of the donor the United Nations and the United states have welcomed the news with caution.
“We are concerned about the lack of transparency regarding the program’s funding, objectives and scope. We’re also concerned this program could potentially violate the 1992 U.N. Security Council arms embargo on Somalia,” Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Pentagon spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
Experts believe an effective Puntland coast guard could dramatically cut down on attacks. Saying the only long-term solution is to go after pirate havens on land.
“It’s too easy to criticize security contractors, but the answer to piracy has to be regional engagement,” the head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, which provides information about piracy to shipping companies, Gibbon-Brooks was quoted as saying.
The European Union Naval Force, in the meantime, have warned that Somali pirates currently hold 22 ships and 521 crew. Whilst analysts say the multinational naval force patrolling the East Africa waters has limited capabilities to end Somali piracy.
“It’s a good thing that Puntland is training an anti-piracy force. But we want to know the identity of the donor, the laws governing the force, how recruits are screened and the chain of command,” the head of the anti-piracy program at the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Alan Cole was quoted as saying.
The Associated Press reported that former U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, Pierre Prosper, is being paid by a Muslim nation to be a legal adviser to the Somali government on the creation of an anti-piracy militia.
“Those who are providing equipment have a responsibility to make sure those who are going to use it understand the limits of their authority and are properly trained,” Cole added.
Reports have indicated that Uganda-based Saracen International is the contractor that is being paid by the unnamed Muslim nation to do train the anti-piracy militia.