A report released by British think-tank Chatham House warns that while
the international community must do more to stop rampant piracy in
Somalia, piracy cannot be eradicated without finding a long-term
solution to the country's political problems. The warning comes as
France, Germany and six other European Union governments are preparing
to deploy additional warships off the coast of Somalia to fight
piracy. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has the story from our East
Africa Bureau in Nairobi.
The Chatham House report says the
international community is not doing enough to stop piracy in Somalia,
even though pirate activities are threatening global commerce and
Each year, some 16,000 vessels pass through the Gulf
of Aden, a narrow waterway between Somalia and Yemen that connects
Europe to the Far East. The report says pirates this year have seized
more than two dozen of those ships in the Gulf of Aden and about half a
dozen others in waters off Somalia's east coast, earning them as much
as $30 million in ransoms.
Facing soaring insurance premiums,
ship owners are said to be considering taking the much longer route
around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to move their goods. The
extra transportation and fuel costs would then be passed on to
consumers, causing even more economic hardships for many people around
The report notes that the presence of a maritime
force composed of U.S. and allied warships in the region has done
little to deter pirates, who are better armed and more determined than
ever before. Pirates are now using rocket-propelled grenade launchers
to try to hijack bigger vessels and that has sparked fears that an
attack on an oil tanker could cause a major oil spill some day in the
Horn of Africa.
For months, ship owners have appealed for
greater international action to curb piracy in Somalia. The director
of the International Maritime Bureau, Pottengal Mukundan, says he
believes many more warships need to be deployed.
why these attacks have increased dramatically is because there has been
no robust push-back against these pirates," he said. "They are
operating with impunity. What we need is a firm push-back and the only
people who can provide it are the naval forces. There is no one else."
author of the Chatham House report, Roger Middleton, agrees that a
strong international military presence and response could reduce the
number of pirate attacks. He welcomed the European Union's announcement
on Tuesday that three additional warships, a supply ship, and three
naval surveillance planes could be sent to Somalia as early as next
But Middleton says he believes that is only a part of the solution to the piracy problem there.
with 100 ships, you are still not going to have full coverage of the
whole Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden," he said.
"This is a huge area. So a large military presence, while important
and would act as a deterrent, it is not an ultimate solution."
international community needs to realize that Somalia is not a normal
country. This is a failed state and you have to treat it as such. You have to look at the type of solutions that we have for Somalia and
that might mean accepting Somali solutions like the Islamic Courts
Union need to be accommodated in the future government of Somalia," he
The only time in the past decade when piracy was not a
problem in Somalia was in 2006 during the six months the Islamic Courts
Union was in power in Mogadishu. Middleton argues that leaders in
the courts were able to stamp out pirate activities because they
enjoyed popular support and were seen as legitimate authorities. He
notes that piracy returned with a vengeance after Ethiopia, with U.N.
backing, intervened in Somalia and replaced the courts with a secular
government that lacked a popular mandate.