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Somalia: Piracy

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference for Operation Atalanta are; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the operation to date; how many war ships from each country are involved in the operation; and if he will make a statement. (300485)

Operation Atalanta does not have terms of reference as such. The tasks of the mission, set out in a mandate agreed by member states, are the protection of vessels of the WFP (World Food Programme) delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia; the protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast; and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

The conduct of the mission is governed by an operation plan (OPLAN) drawn up by the operation commander (currently Rear Admiral Peter Hudson Royal Navy) and agreed by member states.

Our assessment is that Operation Atalanta continues to be an effective counter piracy operation. Pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden has dramatically reduced and we are seeing unprecedented coordination between international navies and merchant shipping. Furthermore, as at 13 November 2009 the EU naval force had successfully escorted 51 World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, carrying 290,000 tons of aid to Somalia.

The number of warships assigned to Operation Atalanta (as of 20 November) are as follows:

Country

Number of ships

France

1

Germany

1

Netherlands

11

Belgium

1

Greece

1

Norway

1

Spain

21+1

1 Flag ship

2 The second Spanish frigate is available to the operation commander.