From January 26th to 27th, the European Union External Action Service Civilian Operation Commander ( CivOpsCdr) , Kenneth Deane, visited the Regional Maritime Security Building Mission in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean – EUCAP Nestor – field offices in Somalia.
Being responsible for ten civilian crisis management operations – working under the umbrella of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – Mr. Deane, originally from Belfast, United Kingdom, receives at his Brussels HQ reports from different parts of the World. The Somalia visit adds substance to what is written on paper.
“Discussing with real people and seeing how they operate on the ground makes things far more understandable”, explained Deane on the eve of his visit.
The stop-over in the capital Mogadishu, where the field offices visitation started, and Hargeisa, in Somaliland – where EUCAP Nestor personnel are currently deployed – as well as Garowe in Puntland, location in which several mission activities took place, aimed at giving the CivOpsCdr a better understanding of the environment EU experts operate on a daily bases. Meetings held with local Authorities and counterparts added valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the proceedings of mission engagement in Somalia, important as well for future planning.
In Mogadishu the CivOpsCdr, appointed in his position on July 2014, held discussions with security sector representatives of the Somalia Federal Government (SFG) and with EU and International partners.
Among the representatives of the SFG, Deane, together with EUCAP Nestor Head of Mission Etienne de Poncins and other mission members, met the Somali National Security Advisor, Sheikh Issa, the Head of the Somali Coast Guard, Admiral Madey Nurey Sheikh and his Advisor Captain Moghe.
During this first part of his visit CivOpsCdr had a chance to exchange ideas with the Head of the EU Delegation to Somalia Michele Cervone, with the Operation Commander of the EU “sister mission” EUTM Somalia, General Massimo Mignardi and UNSOM officers.
Left behind the sea-side view of what once was known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, the EU CivOpsCdr, accompanied by Mr. de Poncins, the Head of Country Office Somalia Pierre-Aime’ Riccio and members of an EU delegation of experts, landed in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Here meetings were held – among other – with the Somaliland Minister of Interior, Ali Mohamed Waran Ade and the Head of the Somaliland Coast Guard, Admiral Ahmed Aw-Osman Abdi.
In Somaliland the EU delegates visited the Coast Guard facilities of the port city of Berbera, an area where the struggle against piracy and illegal fishing is fought with less than basic means. The Somaliland Authorities expressed gratitude to Deane for the EU engagement in the area, underlying the need to support in order to succeed against maritime crime in such a tough environment.
The Somalia’s visit ended in Puntland, a Region that up to only few years ago was constantly in the media spotlight with headlines about continuous pirate’s attacks to international vessel.
If nowadays pirates attacks in Somalia are almost non existing is also thanks to a constant EU and international commitment in patrolling of the area and mentoring Somalis.
In Garowe, the Region’s capital, CivOpsCdr met President Abdiweli. The possibility for EUCAP Nestor experts to be permanently deployed in Puntland was one of the topics of discussion.Deane paid visits to the Custodial Corps Academy as this is a potential venue for trainings activities and to the town prison, where a number of convicted pirates is detained. A meeting with UNSOM partners operating in the area was also held. The EU is part of an International comprehensive approach to assist Somalia in re-shaping institutions damaged by over two decades of war and instability.
With EU and international support to Horn of Africa’s Countries local communities confronting to the engagements piracy in Puntland and the Region has dramatically decreased, but the harder job is to tackle the root causes of piracy, that are to be found ashore.
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian EU mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy which assists host countries in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean region (Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Seychelles, Tanzania) in strengthening their capacity to ensure maritime security and in particular to fight piracy.