Piracy Prevention Programme Will Receive £2.2 Million From Britain To Stop Attacks Off Somali Coast

An international crackdown on piracy off the coast of Somalia will receive a £2.25 million cash boost from Britain, the government has confirmed.

Pirate attacks in the region peaked between 2009 and 2011, with an average of 171 sea incidents per year but fell to 35 in 2012, according to Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt.

Burt also warned the position was "fragile and reversible" as he pledged cash for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's counter piracy programme.

He said: "Last year saw a dramatic decline in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia - to just 35 - with the number of ships seized falling by over 80% compared to the previous year.

"This has not occurred by chance. It is the culmination of years of hard work from governments, international organisations and industry.

"Nevertheless, it is by no means 'mission accomplished'.

"Progress is fragile and reversible - 108 hostages remain in pirate hands, often subjected to terrible conditions with no knowledge of when, or even if, they will be released. So we must stay the course; take the opportunity to press home our advantage and make the waters off the coast of Somalia safe once again."

The funding will be used to finish a new prison in Garowe, Puntland, to hold convicted pirates in facilities that meet international standards as well as supporting a project to tackle corruption in the Somali penal system.

It will also be used to develop Somali coastguard capability.

Burt added: "We have demonstrated that when we work together we can thwart the intentions of those who would use threats and violence to extract financial gain. If we remain steadfast, we can eliminate the scourge of piracy from our seas."