Piracy in Somalia and Its International Implications

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  • Topic: Somalia, Piracy in Somalia, Piracy
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  • Published : April 26, 2010
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PIRACY IN SOMALIA AND ITS INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

In the past few years, pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have received a great deal of public attention. According to the London-based International Maritime Bureau, there has been an “unprecedented increase” in Somali pirate activity in the first 9 months of 2009. Until September this year 147 incidents were reported off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden (separating Somalia and Yemen), compared with 63 for the same period last year. A total of 533 crew members have been taken hostage in 2009, out of which about 200 hostages are still being held by Somali pirates. I have chosen the topic of piracy for my essay as I think that in the context of the present world economy crisis it is a current problem which might affect all the participants of the global economy and it needs an urgent solution. In the first part of my essay I am going to present some data to demonstrate the importance of the problem, then I will focus on the background of the issue and present the different factors which have led to the appearance of piracy. After a detailed description of the pirates and their way of operation I will move on to presenting of the interests of the international community and the policies, strategies and instruments they have used to deal with the issue. At the end of my paper I will draw some conclusions and make a few suggestions for the future. Piracy has been a problem in Somali waters for at least ten years. However, the number of attempted and successful attacks has risen over the last three years. As the hijackings have increased in number, they have also become more sophisticated. The pirates are now able to capture larger targets as well. On September 25 2008, Somali pirates captured the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship transporting weapons to Kenya. This was followed one month later by the hijacking of the MV Sirius Star, the largest ship ever captured by pirates. The Saudi-owned supertanker was carrying about 2 billion barrels of crude oil, worth about $100 million. The ship was finally released on January 9 for a $3 million ransom. The series of hijackings has continued in 2009 too. It seems that this year the pirates have shifted from the Gulf of Aden, where dozens of ships were attacked in 2008 but which is now heavily patrolled, to the ocean between the African mainland and the Seychelles islands. In October 2009 Somali pirates captured a Chinese bulk carrier, carrying 25 Chinese crew members. In November they have seized a US tanker carrying $20 million of crude oil, which is considered the second-largest ship ever hijacked by pirates. The tankers 30-member crew was also kidnapped. In the same month, 9 pirates hijacked the Greek-owned tanker Maran Centaurus carrying 275,000 metric tons of Saudi Arabian crude oil and have taken it to a pirate port along the coast, where they typically hold the boats for ransom. The 300,000-tonne ship was hijacked about 1,300 km from the coast of Somalia and there were 28 crew members on board which are all held hostages. According to the IBM, in October and November alone, 38 ships have been attacked and 10 hijacked. There are several factors which have made Somalia the perfect environment for piracy, which I am going to present below. First of all, if we want understand why piracy works in Somalia, we have to know something about the geography and history of the country. Officially called the Republic of Somalia, Somalia is a country situated in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west. Due to its strategic location, in the past the country was an important centre of commerce. Even today, about 16,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, carrying oil from the Middle East and goods from Asia to Europe and North America, so we can...
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