Caught up in the Scramble for Africa, the World Wars & the Cold War, Somalia’s history has had a defining imprint on the relentless civil war that has gripped the country for the last 23 years. Poverty, instability and a clash of cultural norms have led to the emergence of piracy.
Piracy cost the world economy an astonishing $7bn in 2011. The Cause? The UN Monitoring Report and analysts such as Martin N Murphy highlight how unregulated fishing by foreign vessels after the fall of Siad Barre led to a rise in piracy. Figures put the loss at around $300 million a year, with significant depletion in tuna and shrimp. With no effective government to police it’s waters, many turned to ‘Defensive Piracy’, an act in which local fisherman were defending their grounds against these illegal trawlers. It wasn’t until 2005 that we saw a sharp rise in ‘Predatory Piracy’, in which commercial vessels were directly targeted. According to WSJ, pirates earned around $150 million in 2008 and in that same year pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter, stocked with weapons, demanding a ransom of $25 million.
However in 2013, the US Office of Naval Intelligence highlighted how only 9 vessels were attacked with no successful hijackings. The reason for this? One could be the increased military presence and security teams, which have protected maritime traders from these attacks. With roughly $6bn paid in for security equipment, counter-piracy and military operations. The measures have been proven to be effective, as figures show that in 2010 $176m was paid in ransoms while in 2012 figures were down to a $31.8m.
However, it does not provide a solution to the problem. Piracy is the result of poverty stemming from an ineffective government unable to govern its terrority. Although the EU and development banks have pledged around $8 billion to help develop the Horn of Africa recently, General Ban Ki-Moon reports famine in Somalia will affect around 3 million people. It is clear that more must be done to help develop Somalia if it is to be a functioning and thriving nation.