For the first time since counter-piracy deployments began in 2008, the Indian Navy has performed the escort of vital humanitarian aid for the UN's World Food Programme, following an escort request by EU NAVFOR.
On 24-25 December 2018, the Indian warship Sunayna escorted a WFP dhow transporting 360 tons of food aid from Bossaaso to Berbera, in northern Somalia. Over 1.5 million people face acute levels of food insecurity in Somalia, and 2.6 million are internally displaced. The European Union has been at the forefront of providing a response to this situation over the past decade, but this is the first time that the Indian Navy has worked alongside the European Union in this manner.
INS Sunayna has been deployed for anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since the 6 October 2018. EU NAVFOR sent an escort request to other international naval forces earlier in December, to which the Indian Navy responded. This support demonstrates the good work and cooperation that can be achieved in the region between the EU and partner nations.
Coordinated efforts between EU NAVFOR and other international maritime organisations are vital to ensure the free flow and safe passage of commerce around the Horn of Africa. The frequent Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) conferences held in Bahrain provide a critical mechanism to work out and share best practices.
As of 8 January 2019, EU NAVFOR and its key regional partners have protected 450 WFP vessels and enabled the safe delivery of nearly 1.8 million tonnes of aid into Somalia since the commencement of Operation ATALANTA in December 2008.