News / Africa

Puntland Maneuvers for Bigger Role

Somalia, Puntland, Somaliland
Somalia, Puntland, Somaliland

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland is perhaps best known for its pirates. They’ve hijacked many ships and crewmembers demanding millions of dollars in ransom. But efforts are underway to develop Puntland and improve the quality of life for its people.


Besides being home to many Somali pirates, Puntland is also known for its smugglers. They’re often hired by Somali and Ethiopians wanting to cross the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. Many migrants are robbed or killed in the process.

It’s a tough image to shake, but Puntland is a work in progress, according to Paul Crook, who’s chief technical advisor in Somalia for the International Labor Organization.

“We see the power of the negative. The negative image is one of piracy -- that lovely word that conjures up so much and the influence of international criminality and extremist organizations, which still are around. Al Qaeda manifests itself with al Shabab, for example.”

Al Shabab is the main militant group in Somalia. It’s been the target of a long offensive by AU, Somali and Kenyan forces. Much territory has been retaken, but the group has not been defeated.

Poverty and piracy are linked and young, unemployed men see it as a way to improve the quality of their lives and that of their families. Crook said that the international community should do more to break that link by offering alternatives.

“I think it’s very important that we support all the governments in the entire region to enable young people, particularly young men, to feel part of society in terms of employment being a major element of this,” he said.

Puntland is in northeastern Somalia. Its leaders declared it an autonomous state in 1998. The self-declared independent Somaliland lies to the west and has been lobbying for international recognition as a separate nation.

Crook said that it’s unclear whether Puntland would reunite with Somalia once peace returns.

“The opinion changes on an almost monthly basis as we see the vacillations of political processes. Clearly, the case is people see that they are part of a greater nation, if not state, and see the need for collaboration. And this is where the International Labor Organization clearly has a key role in terms of sponsorship of employment-led economic development -- because micro states will have to coalesce to take on the challenges that come with a very fragile environment and the need to create employment on a very large scale.”

Some observers have sad Puntland does indeed want to reunite with Somalia, but wants assurances it would play a major role.

One potential area for employment is oil and gas exploration, which is underway.

“That’s where the international community must come in - and our ability to work with the other international partners - to ensure that whatever the setting that the resources are used for the greater Somali people. And some people will continue to want the status quo where government is still not strong and they can exploit the situation because people can’t hold people accountable,” said Crook.

Recent oil and gas exploration, however, has had disappointing results.

The ILO technical advisor said he recently chaired a meeting in the Puntland capital Garowe of the U.N. Joint Program on Local Governance. The program, he says, supports effective management in district councils.

He added that open debate and dialogue is important for Puntland’s population.

“If you engage openly then people will respond. We just had a Facebook page running in piracy and also on women’s rights. Some of the comments were very, very good. Unfortunately, some people have seen their culture denuded by being part of the Diaspora and use some rather obnoxious language. But the sense is that everybody is able to express a view and will express a view,” he said.
Once people in Puntland agree to something, he said,  there is usually a strong commitment to deliver.

“In a sense, it’s taking us back to what we saw many years ago in terms of a handshake and a gentlemen’s agreement.”

However, desire for open debate among the people of Puntland has recently run into a government ban on three radio stations. The Ministry of Information says they lacked the proper licenses. The National Union of Somali Journalists calls the bans and other government action attacks on press freedom.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs