International

Somalia, piracy, Le Ponant, pirates
AP Photo/HMCS Charlottetown/TF150/French Defense Ministry/HO
Image shows gunmen, top left on deck, aboard French cruise ship Le Ponant off
Somalia's coast on April 5, 2008.

Somali Pirate Attacks Continue Despite UN Resolution

August 22, 2008 07:53 AM
by Emily Coakley
Two more ships were hijacked by Somali pirates August 20, showing the ineffectiveness of a UN resolution allowing foreign ships to police the waters.

‘2008 a Banner Year for Pirates’

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Pirates off the coast of Somalia have hijacked a tanker and carrier, Bloomberg has reported. The ships are the latest victims in an area considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

A combination of location, opportunity and motivation has led to a surge in piracy off Somalia.

Somalia has Africa’s longest coastline, approximately 2,000 miles, according to Bloomberg. That coastline is near the Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal, which lead into the Mediterranean Sea, connecting Europe to Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The government has struggled for years with warring clans and has no navy, according to USA Today.

Extreme poverty has played a role. Christian Bedford called piracy the country’s biggest industry, and said it started in 1991, when the “last semblance of truly national governance” fell apart. Pirates are part of organized, extensive criminal organizations and earn $10,000 to $30,000 annually in a country where the average person earns $600 in the same period.
“At the end of the day, you hijack a ship, you get paid ransom,” said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center, in an interview earlier this year with USA Today. “These pirates aren’t frightened because the returns are so big.”In June, the United Nations adopted a resolution, blessed by Somalia’s transitional government, which allows “foreign warships to freely enter Somali territorial waters for six months to fight piracy,” according to Nova Scotia’s Chronicle Herald.

But some say the resolution hasn't been effective. Pottengal Mukundan, director of Commercial Crime Services for the International Chamber of Commerce, told NPR, “The U.N. resolution has done nothing to prevent these attacks.”

Bedford, a senior analyst and acting program manager at Maritime Forces Pacific for the Canadian Navy, wrote about his thoughts on the situation earlier this month. He said it won’t be enough for foreign ships to patrol Somalia’s waters, and encouraged Western governments to recognize Puntland and Somaliland, two regions “which have operated independently from Mogadishu’s rule for nearly twenty years and have been on the frontlines of Somalia’s struggles with piracy.”

Recognizing those areas, he said, will strengthen them, bring law and order to those areas, and drive the pirates further south, “thereby making it easier for coalition forces to focus on them through the Security Council’s recent resolution.” A stable, functioning, effective government is the answer for stopping piracy, he said. 

Related Topic: Le Ponant hijacking

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