News / Africa

Somali Minister Mocks International Anti-Piracy Efforts

Somalia has chided wealthy donor nations for failing to provide the resources needed to combat piracy in its coastal waters.  Our correspondent reports on comments made by a senior Somali official to an anti-piracy conference at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Somalia's transitional government says it could halt piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa within months, if given the proper tools and international support.

Speaking to an African conference on maritime security, Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdulrahman Adan Ibrahim Ibbi ridiculed international anti-piracy efforts, calling them "a waste of money."

Most of the conference was held in secret.  But Ibbi told VOA that African delegates applauded his argument that a well-equipped Somali coast guard could stamp out regional piracy for a tiny fraction of the cost of what he called the largely ineffectual international naval presence.

"The international community is paying millions of dollars for its own navy expenses in Somali sea waters," said Abdulrahman Adan Ibrahim Ibbi. "Why don't they pay one percent of that expense to the Somali government to recruit their own coast guard to eradicate this piracy, because we can do it, and we know we can do it and they know we can do it?"

Ibbi says a Somali coast guard would not need much money or a big force to patrol the high seas.  All it would need, he said, is the equipment to battle the pirates at their base of operations.   

"What we are asking is small speedboats where we can put big guns, so we can fight close to the land, not on the sea," he said. "We can go close to the land because we know the area."

The Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern coast is a vital shipping route.  An estimated 20,000 ships travel its waters each year, most of them en route to or from the Suez Canal.  In 2008, the most recent year for which figures are complete, 110 ships were attacked - 40 of them hijacked, and $30 million in ransoms were paid.

Experts say the economic damage from piracy is considerable.  In addition to the cost of naval operations, ship owners pay hundreds of millions of dollars in piracy insurance premiums.

Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister Ibbi, who is also his country's minister for fisheries and marine resources, said piracy is also creating serious long term social problems.  In an impoverished country with few economic opportunities, he says stories of pirate's gold are luring young Somalis to the high seas.

"Every father would like to send his son to be part of the pirates because in a month, [instead of] getting a hundred dollars, you can get in a month a couple of hundred thousand dollars," said Ibbi. "So why should you stay at home when you can be a millionaire in a [short] matter of time?  So every family would like to have one person in the pirates."

Even worse, Ibbi said, is that a significant amount of the ransoms paid go to finance the Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab.   

"People who are paying the ransoms, they don't know they are feeding al-Shabab because al-Shabab has very good relations with the pirates," he said. "Plus every ship they kidnap, the ransom, 20 percent, they should pay to al-Shabab - 20 percent!"

But Ibbi expressed confidence that Somalia's fragile transitional government, with increasing international backing, is gaining the upper hand against al-Shabab.  Pointing to recent military successes on land, he said, "They used to attack us, now we are attacking them."

Ibbi said that as long as piracy goes unchecked, the Somali government faces an uphill battle to bring order to a society that has been virtually ungovernable for nearly two decades.   

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs