Kuala Lumpur: The problem of piracy can be overcome only if international community helps restore governance in the poor, lawless African country, says a top US commander.

Adm. Robert Willard, chief of the US Pacific Command, said navy patrols alone cannot stop the hijacking of ships if pirates' bases onshore are allowed to operate without interference. The international community is spending millions of dollars a day maintaining a flotilla of warships to protect key shipping lanes off East Africa.

"The organisers, the funders are the central problem ... but the international community has been unable to determine how to tackle the problem onshore," Willard told a regional forum in Malaysia.

"Clearly, one thing is to help Somalia recover from being the ungoverned state that it is," he said.

"Unless the international community goes to the root, and not the far end of the problem, it won't be solved."

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos and
anarchy. A transitional government, established in 2004 and backed by about 9,000 African Union troops, has been fighting Islamist insurgents.

Piracy, Somalia needs governance to defeat piracy, navy patrols alone cannot stop piracy, Adm. Robert Willard, chief of the US Pacific Command