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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Piracy down overall, but bad for Somalia



This headline, Ship piracy sinks to 6-year low, but ravages Somalia, pretty much says it all. Of course, Somalia was pretty well on its way to being "ravaged" before the piracy level kicked up...

A summary of how the global level of piracy has dropped here.

Interesting side comment here in a article on the transfer of the alleged Somali pirates captured by a US destroyer to Kenya:
While the Navy responds to distress calls from mariners attacked by pirates, it does not actively patrol for pirates, according to a Navy statement.

"The world is 70 percent water. The Navy is not big enough now, nor would it be big enough with 600 ships to actively patrol and police the entire world for piracy," the statement says.
And the smaller navy, it might be added, focuses on sea lanes deemed essential to the US national interests. Which, I argue, does not include the coastal waters Somalia. However, there is a "multinational" task force in the area:
Kenyan soldiers are being trained by US and French naval forces in combating piracy. The pirates are using rocket-propelled grenades to disable cruise ships and cargo vessels. Sources say the training is being treated as a matter of priority since business at the port at seriously affected.

The port serves several countries in the region, including Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Eastern Congo, southern Sudan and Ethiopia.

The possibility is that, if the menace continues, these countries could look to other alternative ports.

Ships have already hiked their fees, which could lead to higher costs of imports.

This has been necessitated by the need for armed escorts for ships and increased insurance premiums.

Kenyan security forces have so far been unable to contain the threat, fearing a link to international terrorism.

Kenyan security sources claim that Al-Qaeda could be using the attacks to help finance operations.

They cite the captured maritime military manuals of Al-Quad chief Bad al-Raman al-Nature, who masterminded several suicide attacks on military ships.

The training for the Kenyan soldiers and officers from the anti-terrorism unit began late last year.

Military spokesman, Bogita Ongeri, said yesterday they have established a strategic monitoring centre for this purpose.

He said military personnel have always provided security to ships arriving and leaving the Kenyan waters.

"We are always informed on ships arriving and leaving, which we escort. We also have security radars that monitor any activity at the ocean," he said.

Head of anti-terrorism unit police headquarters, John Kamwende, said the incidences are being taken seriously.
UPDATE: Regional impact of Somali pirates further discussed here.

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