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Historic EU grant may impede pirate recruitment

Save the Children Denmark, a close partner to the Danish Shipowners’ Association and the carriers in the fight against poverty in Somalia, has received an EU grant of USD 12 million to a project which aims at providing  42,000 young people with an education. It is the largest contract ever for Save the Children Denmark.

Save the Children Denmark, who has partnered up with the Danish Shipowners’ Association and the Danish carriers on humanitarian assistance in Somalia, the breeding ground for pirates at the Horn of Africa and in the Indian Ocean, has received its largest ever grant. The European Union has granted approximately EUR 10 million, or USD 12 million, to the Danish branch of the international humanitarian organisation to a project aimed at educating thousands of young Somalis ranging from basic school to vocational training.

So Camilla Erika Lerberg, Head of CSR Partnerships with Save the Children Denmark, informs ShippingWatch.

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“The programme in the new contract which is to last for three years involves a total of 42,000 children and young people. And it is the single biggest contract we have ever received. We consider it an approval of the quality in the work we do. Otherwise, I do not think we would ever have received a grant this big”, Camilla Erika Lerberg says.

 

7,000 youngsters educated

In the last three years, Save the Children Denmark has educated 7,000 young people with the help of e.g. the Danish carriers which have supported with between USD 867,000-1 million. Today, 70 percent of the involved young people have a job. These results are a big part of the reason why Save the Children Denmark has received its biggest ever single grant. The grant from the European Union results in Save the Children Denmark becoming the largest humanitarian organisation in Somalia.

For Save the Children Denmark, the project is a poverty and education project, Camilla Erika Lerberg points out.

“But to us, it is important that the project includes several partners understanding that the long haul of getting the Somalis out of poverty and crime must be carried out on shore and that it is absolutely necessary that investments will have to be made in the education system. The shipowners understand that we are able to create great results on shore which will have a positive effect on the problems at sea in the long term”, Camilla Erika Lerberg says. She points out that there is still room for other partners in the efforts of educating as many young Somalis as possible making them able to rise from poverty.

The shipowners’ strategic approach

In the Danish Shipowners’ Association, Deputy Director General, Jan Fritz Hansen, who is also the Chairman of the European shipowners’ Piracy Task Force, says that the support from the carriers for the fighting of poverty in Somalia is taking place as a result of the carriers recognising that they are not able to fight piracy with powder and shot alone when fundamental poverty and lack of education among young Somalis are important aspects of the reasons behind piracy.

 

“We have spent a lot of resources just to get a naval force in the area. However, we have also realised, e.g. during international hearings in the IMO and elsewhere, that some people have been of the opinion that shipowners were to take part in development aid but there are limits as to how much the carriers may afford and to our knowhow on development aid. However, we would like to take part in highlighting the necessity of different approaches to the problem and that is why we, on two occasions, have supported financially in the shape of education packages through Save the Children Denmark. You may say that we have treated the symptoms at sea but we believe that the trouble will have to be solved on shore”, Jan Fritz Hansen says.

At the same time, he does not hide the fact that the shipowners also has a strategic approach to the piracy issue:

“Maybe the Danish Parliament, the institutions of the European Union and others would say that we were on our own if we were only using powder and shot. Now, we are able to bring a broader approach to the table in support of our viewpoints and say that unfortunately powder and shot is necessary but we are also aware that development aid and other aid projects are necessary”, Jan Fritz Hansen says.

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