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First support mission for Atalanta

(B2)The first ship with an escort from the European Union – the MV Semlov – left the port of Mombasa in Kenya on Sunday. THE Semlov will be accompanied by the British Frigate, the HMS Northumberland. This is the first escort of WFP (World Food Program) boats carried out under the colors of the blue star flag.

It has enough food to feed more than 50000 people for a month, according to a WFP spokesperson. 90% of food in Somalia arrives by sea.

Support was previously provided by the Dutch from Hr Ms de Ruyter – reinforced by two NATO ships (SNMG) – which had provided relay between the Canadians and the European force itself. In recent months, the Dutch have successfully accompanied several ships bringing food aid to Somalia (around 60.000 tonnes). Passing the Suez Canal, to go back to the Netherlands, the Hr Ms de Ruyter met and greeted the Psara, the Greek ship which will provide force command of the operation for the next four months. The Dutch should return in the second half of 2009, assures the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

The European Union force will escort the ships to the WFP for a year. Which will be a gain compared to the previous system which was based on voluntary action and the good will of Member States with sometimes the risk of a “break in protection” (1), as in July before the arrival of the Canadians, and required “frequent replacement calls,” explains the WFP.


Read also: interview with P. Goossens from WFP

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).