Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 06, 2008 07:58 ET

Canadian Navy to Escort World Food Programme Ships

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 5, 2008) - The Government of Canada is deploying the frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec to the coastal region of Somalia for the next few weeks to conduct naval escorts of World Food Programme ships carrying life-saving supplies to the area. The government is acting on a request from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UN International Maritime Organization. We are currently seeking to receive formal authorization from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to escort World Food Programme ships into their territorial waters.

"Food supplies are urgently needed in Somalia but deteriorating security has made delivery difficult by land and sea," said the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. "Canada is stepping up to the plate by tasking Ville de Quebec with the role of escorting World Food Programme ships to ensure their safe arrival at designated ports."

The WFP is responding to urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia. Over 2.4 million Somalis rely on food aid, of which, ninety percent arrives by sea. While pirates have launched 24 attacks (in 2008) on vessels off Somalia's eastern and northern coasts, to date no escorted WFP ships have been targeted. Naval escorts have been provided by France, Denmark and the Netherlands over the last eight months. A Dutch frigate escorted the last ship loaded with food for beneficiaries in Somalia at the end of June. Somalia has been beset by instability and insecurity for almost 20 years and is further affected by the regional drought and increasing world food prices.

"Canada calls on all actors to respect international humanitarian law and ensure full, safe and unhindered access to assist those in need," said the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"Canada is a dedicated supporter of the WFP, and the deployment of the HMCS Ville de Quebec to Somalia is yet another example of our commitment to those suffering from hunger and food insecurity," said Minister Beverley Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. "We are the third largest contributor to the WFP this year, and it is vital that the contribution we've made produces real results on the ground for those who are in need. By providing this ship, Canada will ensure that millions of Somalians receive the food aid that they so desperately need."

"The Canadian Forces' contribution to this mission highlights our flexibility and determination in supporting international relief efforts," said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff.

On July 17th, HMCS Ville de Quebec originally deployed on Operation SEXTANT, Canada's maritime contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1). With this new task, which will facilitate humanitarian operations, HMCS Ville de Quebec will operate under Operation ALTAIR for about one month in direct support of WFP shipments to Somalia. Following this mission in September, she will return to her original tasking with SNMG1 scheduled to end in December.

Canada currently has three ships deployed with Operation ALTAIR (Her Majesty's Canadian Ships (HMCS) Iroquois, a destroyer acting as the command ship, Calgary, a frigate, and Protecteur, an auxiliary oil replenishment ship).

Contact Information

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