The Lithuania Tribune
Monday, April 29, 2013
Soldiers of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion will guard a ship of the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme in the framework of the anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia in the second half of 2013.
A total of 16 Lithuanian troops will serve in the European Union’s (EU) ATALANTA operation, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said on Monday.
“Lithuania is boosting the country’s participation in the EU-led operation and will delegate and autonomous ship security team to the anti-piracy operation ATALANTA off the Somalian coast starting the second semester of this year. The Lithuanian troops will guard a ship of the World Food Programme, which carries humanitarian aid to residents of African countries,” reads the press release.
The Lithuanian team will take over the ship security function from Finnish soldiers for six months.
Under the mandate granted by the Seimas, Lithuania can delegate up to 30 soldiers and civilians to ATALANTA. The operation was launched in the end of 2008 in response to attacks by Somali pirates against civilian ships.
With participation of the EU and NATO forces in the anti-piracy campaign, the piracy operations have been curbed drastically over the past few years.
The warships involved in the operation in the Gulf of Aden and the Somalian waters escort ships of the World Food Programme transporting aid to Somali residents, deterring and detaining pirates and armed robbers in the operation region, monitoring fisheries, etc.
The operation currently involves 23 EU member-states and two non-EU countries, delegating up to 2,000 soldiers.