Friday, 1 January 2010

Somali pirates still in control

Somali pirates are now more rampant than ever. Pirate attacks almost doubled in 2009 compared to 2008, even though the naval forces of several countries have been deployed in the area.

Ransom paid

Today it was reported that a ransom of US$4 million was paid to pirates to release a Chinese cargo ship and its 25 sailors. With such high ransom money being paid, it unfortunately triggers more pirate attacks in the area. It's easy money. The pirates have even set up a "Pirate Stock Exchange" in Somalia where people can contribute weapons or any other supplies to assist the pirates and if they complete a successful hijack of a ship, the returns can be substantial. Yes, it sounds like something out of a movie, but it's not.

Gulf of Aden

The European Union Naval Force were the first (2008) to patrol the Gulf of Aden to prevent cargo ships from being attacked by the pirates. Naval forces from Britain, India, Iran, USA, France, China and other countries have since joined the fight against the pirates but since they have to cover such a vast area, their impact has unfortunately been less successful than expected. Ironically, since the naval forces of these countries have been working together with a common goal, it has led to an improvement of diplomatic relations between these countries. A big hurdle the warships face is that they usually don't have jurisdiction to try the pirates, once caught. Laws for modern piracy are sketchy at best.

Somali pirates

Earlier this year the deadline for the launch of the SEACOM undersea cable (to provide more bandwidth to countries on the east coast of Africa) was extended to accommodate extra measures that had to be taken to prevent pirates from disrupting the laying of the cable.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has become a weekly occurrence and according to the EU Naval Force, Somali pirates are now holding eight vessels and 213 crew members, at the time of writing.

I'm really surprised that piracy on our oceans is still prevalent in the 21st century!

Related links
Piracy in Somalia
Pirate stock exchange opens in Somalia
History of piracy


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