Sweden offers ships to fend off pirates near Somalia

Sweden offers ships to fend off pirates near Somalia
Sweden plans to send naval vessels to assist an EU force protecting humanitarian aid from pirates off the coast of Somalia, pending approval by the Riksdag.

The Swedish ships will join Operation Atalanta, which was launched in December 2008, is intended to protect United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) deliveries from pirates near Somalia.

The operation has United Nations Security Council mandate and is taking place at the invitation of the Transitional Government of Somalia.

“Sweden’s participation is a response to the UN request for protection and security for WFP deliveries of food aid to Somalia. In addition, the operation will help combat the increasing number of acts of piracy off the coast of the country,” Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt said in a statement.

Sweden plans to send its International Corvette Force to participate in Operation Atalanta, including two corvettes, one support ship and a security force of about 160 personnel.

The mission is scheduled to start in the first half of 2009 and last for no more than four months.

Before the operation moves forward, however, he government’s request must first be approved by the Riksdag.