WFP food aid ship hijacked off Somalia coast

Published on 26 February 2007

WFP has announced that the MV Rozen, a WFP-contracted vessel, was hijacked off the coast of north-eastern Somalia, somewhere near Bargal, north of Hafun in the state of Puntland at around 0935 yesterday, Sunday, 25 February 2007.

WFP has announced that the MV Rozen, a WFP-contracted vessel, was hijacked off the coast of north-eastern Somalia, somewhere near Bargal, north of Hafun in the state of Puntland at around 0935 yesterday, Sunday, 25 February 2007.

Such acts of piracy might undermine the delivery of relief food to vulnerable people in Somalia and could further worsen the prevailing precarious humanitarian situation

Peter Goossens, WFP Country Director for Somalia

On board the vessel are 12 crew members, six Sri Lankans, including the captain, and six Kenyans.

The ship had just delivered 1,800 metric tonnes of WFP food aid and FAO equipment in Berbera and in Bossaso and was sailing empty back to Mombasa. The ship is now reported to be anchored off Bargal, in Somali waters.

Previous hijacks

Early last year, MV Rozen escaped an attempted hijack in southern Somali waters. Her sister vessel, the MV Semlow, was hijacked with WFP relief food on board for more than 100 days in Somali waters in June 2005.

The crew was released unharmed. Another vessel with WFP food aid, the MV Miltzow, was also hijacked for 33 hours in October 2005 while it was in the process of unloading food in the port of Merka.

Safety concerns

“WFP is highly concerned about the safety of crew members and the vessel. Such acts of piracy might undermine the delivery of relief food to vulnerable people in Somalia and could further worsen the prevailing precarious humanitarian situation”, said Peter Goossens, WFP Country Director for Somalia.

WFP is currently in close contact with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the Puntland authorities, and with the vessel’s agents, to obtain the most accurate information and to ensure the earliest release of the vessel and crew.

In 2005, after the hijacks, WFP temporarily had to suspend deliveries of food aid by sea for some weeks, but since then sea deliveries have been uninterrupted, even during the worst days of the conflict between the TFG and the Union of Islamic Courts (ICU) at the end of last year.

In 2006, WFP delivered some 78,000 metric tonnes of relief food to 1.4 million people affected by drought and floods in southern Somalia.