Why pirates hijack vessels in Somalia
Somali Pirates,who do they work for?( Click on this link to listen to an audio interview between Hassan Isilow and Dr. Moosa Gabobey,expert on piracy and chairperson of the Somali Fisheries Association)
By Hassan Isilow
Somali Pirates are back in the headlines after receiving $ 12.3 million in ransom money for the release of two ships .This incident has left many thinking, who do the Somali pirates work for? And what could be the motive behind the escalating piracy. This week, Africa witness caught up with Dr Moosa Gagobey, chairperson of the Somali Fisheries Association and a former lecturer at the Fisheries Institute of Somalia. He says a number of factors are responsible for the increase in Piracy. First, he points out the issue of greed among Somali youth who have been encouraged to join piracy because of the huge sums of money involved. The London-based academic says unemployment has also motivated a number of Somali youth to join piracy.
“Somalia has not had an effective government for a long time and people have taken to doing whatever they want. But at the same time, Somali’s are very angry with foreign vessels for dumping toxic waste along their coast and illegally fishing in their waters,” the academic told Africa Witness in an interview.
Last year pirates accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast. They demanded an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukrainian ship and about $25m for the Saudi tanker they had seized. The pirates claimed the ransom would be used to clean up the waste. Dr. Moosa agrees with concerns of toxic waste, saying there is environmental dilapidation on the Somali coast as a result of toxic waste being dumped by certain western firms.
“Yes, the Somali coastline has been hugely destroyed as a result of toxic dumping, but it ought to be noted that pirates do not represent any environmental organization. They are out to enrich themselves,” Gagobey related. As a result of Somalia’s extended civil war, several countries have taken advantage of the situation and freely dump their toxic wastes in the country’s waters without much thought, he added.
Piracy is becoming fashionable among Somali youth because of the huge sums of money involved. According to reports in the Somali media-pirates live a lavish lifestyle, with most of them driving big cars and marrying the most beautiful girls in Town. Since most youth want such a life style which is difficult to reach in Somalia, a country where almost half the population needs food aid after 20 years of non-stop conflict. The only option these youth have to reach their dreams is to hijack vessels plying off the Somali coast.