News / Africa

Somalia's Piracy Has Major Global Costs, but Also Incentives

Guards stand outside the prison that houses 70 pirate inmates, in the breakaway northern republic of Somaliland, March 2011. (file photo)
Guards stand outside the prison that houses 70 pirate inmates, in the breakaway northern republic of Somaliland, March 2011. (file photo)
Nico Colombant

Recent research indicates piracy from Somalia is costing the world economy billions of dollars, but also bringing lots of money to pirates and Somali communities.

A recent report by the U.S.-based One Earth Future Foundation on costs related to Somalia piracy is prompting questions about how to more effectively curb these activities.

The report said Somali pirates cost the shipping industry and governments nearly $7 billion last year, with lots of money being spent for ships to go faster, to pay ransom when crew and cargo are captured, and for security operations.

These include naval missions by several countries, which effectively have pushed most of the pirate attacks out of the Gulf of Aden, to the much wider and more difficult to control Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

A leading expert on piracy, Roger Middleton, said while in recent months, the number of hijackings has dropped, the attacks have become more and more profitable for those behind them.

“For all the success of naval operations, and some of them have been very successful, piracy is a more profitable enterprise in the last year than it was the year before, and the trend seems to be upwards for ransom payments,” said Middleton.

These payments now average about $5 million - making piracy usually well worth the risk, according to Middleton.

“You can make $10,000 as a pirate, at the most basic, lowest level for one successful hijacking. If you do three of those in a year, you are doing very, very well by any standards anywhere in the world," said Middleton. "Put in mind that the estimate for Somali gross domestic product per head is about $600 per year, and for many, many people it is much, much lower than that, and the economic incentive is absolutely clear. Piracy is the best career you can have.”

He said the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia has just enough stability to allow a criminal enterprise such as piracy to flourish, while not enough governance to stop it.

Middleton made his comments at a recent gathering of the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, Ireland.

Last month, a study published by the British think-tank Chatham House said several populated areas of Puntland were benefiting from investments funded by piracy, with increased electricity, housing construction and vehicles.

Many of the lower level pirates are former fishermen who have been quoted as saying they were not making enough money to feed their families anymore.

In the past two decades, boats from around the world took advantage of the lack of law and order in Somalia’s waters, as well as agreements with authorities, to operate large-scale fishing, making the catches of local fishermen smaller and smaller.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid