Anti-piracy mission extended

Bundeswehr foreign mission Anti-piracy mission extended

The Bundeswehr is to continue to support the EU’s Operation Atalanta for another year. The German government has requested approval for this. Over this year the Atalanta Commander is to draw up a strategy that will make it possible to end the operation. Pirate attacks in the waters around Somalia have dropped significantly.

The mandate again provides for the deployment of up to 600 German soldiers. It is to run until 31 May 2018. The German Bundestag must still approve the government motion.

The Bundeswehr has been part of Operation Atalanta since 2008, and has provided ships, boats and aircraft. Currently the Bundeswehr has deployed 91 soldiers as part of the operation. Operation Atalanta’s main mandate will continue to be to combat piracy. Ships carrying supplies for the World Food Programme will also be protected.

The legal basis for the mission is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the mandate of the United Nations Security Council as laid out in Resolution 2316 (2016) adopted on 9 November 2016. These are complemented by the European Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/2082 of 28 November 2016.

Atalanta is successful

The operation is doing much to fight piracy around the Horn of Africa. This is demonstrated by the extremely positive developments over the last four years, including the swift and successful end put to the most recent pirate attack in mid-March. This incident should not be seen as a reversal. Indeed the speed with which the attack was ended, with the help of Operation Atalanta, only confirms the success of the mission.

It was the first time a commercial vessel had been held since 2002. Over the last two years there have been only two unsuccessful attempted pirate attacks on commercial vessels.

This is partly because of other international maritime forces and the measures taken by civilian shipping to protect its own vessels. Together these measures have made the pirate’s "business model" unprofitable and have largely prevented piracy.

The end of the mission is in sight

Last year the EU reviewed the Atalanta strategic approach for the first time, partly in response to proposals made by the German government. On the basis of the resulting recommendations, the EU member states decided to scale back the mission. This was already reflected in the last mandate approved by the German Bundestag and is to be continued now.

In view of the continued low-level threat, the EU member states are having what is known as a transition strategy drawn up for the current mandate. The aim is to prepare for the foreseeable end of the operation while ensuring that its achievements are upheld.

Capabilities to protect ships chartered by the UN’s World Food Programme will initially be retained in full. Germany’s response is this draft mandate which retains an appropriately strong ceiling on troops.

The operation currently comprises a Spanish Landing Platform Dock (LPD) which is the flagship, along with the two Spanish helicopters it carries, and one German and one Spanish maritime surveillance aircraft.

Holistic approach

The land-based organised crime networks responsible are still intact. If their illegal activities are to be effectively ended in the long term, sustainable state structures must be put in place in Somalia. The EU’s holistic approach is very important in this context.

Within the framework of the EU, the German government will continue its participation in all common foreign and security policy (CFSP) missions around the Horn of Africa: the civilian European Union Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia) and the military EU training mission for Somalia (EUTM, European Union Training Mission Somalia). The EU is also providing substantial financial support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as well as its high level of development and humanitarian engagement.

Building rule-of-law structures

The engagement of the German government to stabilise Somalia goes well beyond its involvement in EU measures. In Somalia the German government is also using a variety of complementary German foreign-policy, security-policy and development-policy measures.

The long-term goal is to achieve a stable Somali state. The German government is thus promoting stabilisation projects in order to help put in place and consolidate a federal system in the country. It is promoting democratic forms of participation and helping reform the security sector.

A federal police structure is to be established in Somalia with the participation of more police officers under the auspices of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Development assistance

German development policy too, is making a substantial contribution to bringing stability, peace and development to the country, with its structural, long-term approach. To this end, development cooperation is currently providing around 107.6 million euros.

Efforts focus in particular on improving water supplies and sanitation and enhancing the health system. It is particularly important that the people in Somalia can feed themselves. German development cooperation is financing transitional assistance interventions in order to improve food security. Women, children, internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees are particularly badly affected by food insecurity.

All this support aims to enable people to live better in Somalia, thus addressing the factors that cause people to flee their homes and facilitating the reintegration of returnees.