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Use Of Force May Not Be Enough To Deter Somali Pirates

Debate continues about how to combat the growing piracy off Somalia’s coast. Some suggest the deployment of an international force, while others recommend the use of technology to detect and hunt pirates.

Jim Wilson is a correspondent for the Fairplay International Shipping Weekly,a leading maritime newspaper. From Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, he told English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that it’s doubtful that the use of force alone would deter the pirates.

He said it depends on what type of force is used. “If you mean arming the crew or arming or putting armed guards on the ship, no, because the crew, the shipping industry, the insurance industry and the people who hire the ship are pretty much against it”.

Wilson said while there is a lot of evidence to suggest that armed vessels do deter pirates, he didn’t think it is a solution that is going to be commercially adopted. “If you think of striking and occupying pirate bases in Somalia, that too does not work. How do you use mechanics of attacking a pirate base”, he asked.

He explained that striking pirate bases requires amphibious landing crafts and several helicopters which the pirates will see and escape.“No pirate in his right mind is going to stand around and wait for a fleet of helicopters to come disgorge a lot of marines ready to kill him. It does not make sense”. He added, “even if they did how would you be able to tell the difference between a Somali pirate and a Somali citizen”

Wilson however said that the only use of force that could be valuable is the bolstering of the international forces that are already in Somalia under the auspicious of the United Nations, and helping the Somali transition federal government to regain control of the country and restoring law and order, or some other form of political settlement. “Until there is peace on land, there will be piracy at sea”.

He said Somalia is a lawless country with porous borders making the acquisition of guns and equipment easy. “There is even the aspect of some Somali in the Diaspora funding Somali clans and providing them with intelligence. “You have to remember Somalis may be uneducated by and large, but they are not stupid”.

Wilson said what can be done in the interim is for ships to stay far away from Somalia as is humanly possible. “The level of attacks from the Somali pirates dramatically falls once you hit 500 nautical miles off the coast”