EUNAVFOR Operation Commander visit to Somalia

  • The three-day visit enabled the Operation Commander to hold talks with key players in the Somali Federal Government linked to the EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, the European family and the partners of the international community.
  • The aim of the visit was to explain the main tasks and latest updates of the Operation.

From 22 to 24 January 2024, the Operation Commander (OPCDR) of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Operation ATALANTA, Vice Admiral Ignacio Villanueva Serrano, paid a visit to Somalia to introduce himself to the local and European authorities after taking command of the Operation on 23 November 2023: “One of the things I wanted to do first was to come here and visit personally the Federal Authorities from Somalia and to discuss with them how we can improve our work to provide a better maritime security environment in Somalia”.

The OPCDR had office-calls with members of the government linked to the EUNAVFOR ATALANTA. These meetings provided an overview of the tasks of the Operation’s mandate. They also gave rise to discussions on ways of strengthening support and cooperation between EUNAVFOR ATALANTA and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS).

Together with the EU Ambassador to Somalia, H.E Karin Johansson, the OPCDR were given the opportunity to exchange with a team from the FGS led by the National Security Advisor, Mr Hussein Moalim. The meeting provided constructive discussions on the framework for the cooperation between the FGS and EUNAVFOR to jointly improve maritime safety in the region.

He also met the Somali Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, H.E. Ahmed Hassan Adan. The OPCDR had the opportunity to present the latest actions taken by the Operation to support the Somali Government’s efforts to tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Operation ATALANTA remains committed to contribute to fight IUU fishing for sustainable fishing of the coast of Somalia.

The legal framework of the Operation was also at the heart of discussions with Somali’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs H.E. Hassan Mo’allin Mohamoud. The Operation EUNAVFOR benefits from a comprehensive legal approach, and discussions with the Minister have let to identifying avenues for enhancing cooperation. Discussions between Somalia State Minister for Ports and Marine Transport, Mohamed Abdulkadir and the OPCDR resulted in the identification for joint action to strengthen our communication.

This visit also provided an opportunity for the OPCDR to present itself to the European Union (EU) family present in Somalia. The EU is engaged in the Horn of Africa through an integrated approach, of which EUNAVFOR ATALANTA represents one of the military pillars. In this regard, the OPCDR had a lengthy discussion with the head of the EU Delegation Ambassador, H.E. Karin Johansson. The delegation’s support and assistance are crucial for Operation ATALANTA. The OPCDR also seized this visit to meet its sister mission, the European Union Capacity Building mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia) and the European Union Training Mission in Somalia (EUTM Somalia).

Finally, Vice Admiral Villanueva also held meetings with international community partners with whom the Operation interacts on a daily basis in order to successively achieve its Mandate. Discussions focused on assessing their partnership notably with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representatives; and Interpol Mogadishu.

“We have had very productive and complete conversations, and the outcome will lead my orders in the next months to better support Somali authorities” the OPCDR said after
finishing his visit to Somalia.

European Union Naval Force, Operation Atalanta