What About European Pirates In Somalia’s Waters

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[The View From Abroad]

International donors have pledged $213 million for Somalia, the East African nation that has been much in the news lately.

Involved in the conference were the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union; it was convened by the United Nations Secretary–General Ban Ki-moon and hosted by the European Union ( EU) from April 22 through 23 April, in Brussels, Belgium.

One of the goals is to help Somalia successfully at last take on the scourge of "piracy" in the Gulf of Aden. Louis Michel, the EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid voiced his satisfaction with the pledges made by the international delegates.

At the same time, it’s about international media and organizations started addressing roots behind the Somali "piracy," which is well known.

In terms of the donor pledges; so far so good. Yet these pledges are only promises: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." As a matter of fact, whoever refuses to be something of a Walter Mitty character will be cautious and won’t take those pledges at their face value.

Let’s wait and see if those who made the pledges really put their money where their words are. Indeed, many European countries promised on many occasions in the past to substantially increase development assistance or aid for instance; however, this hasn’t always materialized.

In addition, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon declared: "The equation is clear. More security on the ground will mean less piracy on the seas."

So the aim of the conference was to bankroll the fledgling Somali government and the African Union Mission in Somalia so that they might track down and crack down on "pirates" that have been leading seafarers and other sea marauders, robbers, poachers, plunderers and bandits a dance.

Most people long for secure and safe seas and deprecate the activities of pirates. Yet the conference failed to consider or at least to bring up and get to the germane root of the problem in Somali waters.

It’s common knowledge that when the Somali state crumbled in the early 1990s European and Asian sea marauders profited by that muddy situation and started plundering the Somali waters of fish, and thus stripping and divesting Somali fishermen of their main source of livelihood and life; that is the root of the problem.

Moreover, Somali waters and coast have become ever since the scrapheap of toxic waste and other garbage dumped by foreign sea criminals. This sea theft and robbery sparked a reaction from Somalis who embarked on piracy.

In sullying Somali waters and coast, the sea bandits have ruined even the future prospects for tourism of that country. We know that tourism is easy pickings; the instance of Tunisia teaches us that some countries rely on tourism. Can anybody compute the huge amount of money Somalia loses by not being able to attract tourists to visit its coasts and enjoy the Gulf of Aden even after peace is restored? Can anybody calculate the huge amounts of money Somalia has been losing amid and following the theft of their fish?

We do understand that many "journalists" across our world-village gloss over and suppress the open secret spilled by the German newspaper "Die Zeit" last November 27, 2008, number 49, to the effect that Europeans and Asians have been plundering Somali for many years. The title of that article is: "Who is really the pirate?"

The two authors of the article wrote: "Europeans and Asians have been plundering Somali waters for decades. Somali fishermen had no other choice but to become pirates. And the world is now shocked." The lines quoted above are written in German; they have been translated into English by yours truly.

Many organizations and people across the globe are aware of this root cause of piracy in Somali waters. But only a few would talk about that. Why don´t those "professional media organizations and journalists" gather more news and details on that story and broadcast them?

Have they put their professionalism in the cloakroom? Many Somalis regard the sea plunderers from Europe and from Asia as the real "pirates". And many "journalists" – I mean propagandists, public relations officers and organizations, as well as public opinion manipulators – have become less vocal when it comes to broadcasting and running the whole truth about that story

Only serious and responsible journalists and media organizations have dug deeper and ran the story about the real cause of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and in Somali waters.

So long as the sea marauders and plunderers aren´t brought to book or as long as they don´t at least compensate the Somalis for robbing them of their fish and for dirtying their waters and coast, any attempt to solve the "piracy" problem in the Gulf of Aden will remain flimsy and shallow.

Black Star News columnist Mathias Victorien Ntep is a PhD researcher at the Goethe-University of Frankfurt ( Main), Germany, and at the Leiden University, Netherlands.

Please post your comments online or submit them to milton@blackstarnews.com

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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