Protecting our Partners: EU NAVFOR Somalia escorts United Nations World Food Programme vessels to safety

Sep 06, 2019 - 09:15

6 September 2019—Last week, EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA provided support to United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) vessels that were carrying NGO and United Nations Staff through the Gulf of Aden.

The WFP requested support from EU NAVFOR Somalia following further deterioration of the security situation in Yemen, specifically near the city of Aden. Upon that request, EU NAVFOR Somalia arranged for Operation ATALANTA's Italian Flagship Antonio Marceglia, to escort the WFP-chartered vessels safely to Djibouti.

EU NAVFOR Somalia as a World Food Programme Partner

In addition to deterring piracy and monitoring fishing activity off the Somali coast, one of EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA’s mandated, core tasks is to protect WFP vessels and other vulnerable shipping as they transit the Area of Operations.

EU NAVFOR Somalia warships ensure the safe delivery of food aid to Somalia by protecting WFP vessels as they transit through high-threat areas around the Horn of Africa and the Somali Basin. In partnership with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and other regional maritime security agencies, EU NAVFOR Somalia protects vulnerable vessels from the dangers of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

EU NAVFOR Somalia also embarks Military Armed Security Teams, known as Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachments (AVPDs) onto WFP vessels to act as a deterrent to pirates. Lithuania, Finland, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and the Netherlands have provided soldiers for AVPDs in the past, demonstrating their commitment to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA's Lithuanian AVPD embarks on board WFP-chartered vessel JUIST./ EU NAVFOR Somalia, 05 September 2019.

The World Food Programme in Somalia

WFP is a key partner for EU NAVFOR Somalia. The work they do in Somalia provides much-needed food aid to people in the region. Earlier this month, the United Nations reported that due to severe, prolonged drought, Somalia is experiencing the poorest cereal harvest the country has seen since 2011. Currently, the UN estimates that in Somalia:

  • Approximately 2.2 million people are severely food insecure, falling under phases 3 and 4 of the five-scale Integrated Phase Classification (IPC). *phase 3 denotes "crisis" situations with high or above-usual acute malnutrition, and phase 4 indicates "emergency" levels of acute malnutrition and high death rates
  • 2.6 million people have been internally displaced and are living in makeshift settlements outside urban areas, facing hunger
  • One million children will be acutely malnourished over the next year. This includes 180,000 children who are likely to be severely malnourished.

Since 2008, EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA has protected 485 WFP vessels and safely delivered 1.8 million metric tonnes of food and aid to people in Somalia. AVPDs, EU NAVFOR warships, maritime patrol aircrafts, local maritime forces and other actors all contribute to a regional, coordinated approach to counter-piracy.