Sea Transportation: Gentleman Pirates Cause Mass Starvation


January 4, 2006: Somali pirates are apparently getting ransoms of $25,000-$50,000 per ship. And apparently they've been careful not to kill anyone. The master of a ship that was recently in their hands was given a very cordial "interview" with some pirate leaders ashore, and reported they appeared very well organized; even had uniforms. Given the actual volume of traffic off the Somali coast, the number of hits hasn't been very great. The pirates seem to be trying to operate at a level that doesn't seriously tick off the rest of the world.

But the piracy is having a more serious effect on the two million Somalis threatened with starvation because of drought. Emergency food shipments are now being sent via Djibouti, which means the food will most likely end up in Somaliland and Puntland, rather than where it's really needed farther south. Overland shipments out of Kenya only reach a few parts of southern Somalia. To try and move the food any farther risks losing most, or all, of it to bandits and warlords.

Appeals to major naval powers to clear out the pirates have not been answered. This is most likely because such an operation would require shutting down the land bases of the pirates, and no one wants to get involved with more land warfare in Somalia. Thus the most severely affected victims of the pirates will be starving Somalis.


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