The UN RelieWeb site posts this "special report" on the problems being caused by the pirates of the Somali coast:
Over one million people are food insecure in Somalia. Over 600,000 of these people are currently facing severe food shortages in southern Somali. Piracy is chocking the maritime supply of basic commodities because private commercial vessels are unwilling to risk sailing in Somali waters. Food imports have been especially affected at a time when they are most needed to off-set poor and failed production in 2005. At the same time humanitarian organizations are intensifying their interventions to mitigate the extreme food insecurity created by conflict, crop losses, high cereal prices and insufficient income-earning opportunities. But these critical interventions are being slowed down by piracy.This probably can all be read as "Hey, US, send some ships and Marines to clean up this mess."
Although livestock has traditionally been Somalia's predominant industry, the livestock export ban between 1998 and 2004 has reduced its importance pushing more people to rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. The looming possibility of a ban being placed on international vessels sailing in Somali waters by the IMB, would have a serious impact on the livelihoods and thus the food security of the country, similar to the impact of the livestock ban.
Although the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has made an effort to improve the situation by contracting the Topcoat (sic-Topcat) Marine Security, piracy remains rife. If action to contain the piracy problem is not successful, the coastline could be declared a war zone resulting in a ban on international marine transport. This would have profound consequences for vulnerable populations who would find themselves subject to even higher basic commodity prices and be stripped further of income-earning opportunities. Furthermore, humanitarian organizations would face even greater challenges in accessing and providing assistance to these populations.
UPDATE 12/31/05: Strategy Page also hears the UN calling for help.