The activities of the Somali pirates have been making the headlines for the last three years. This was because the attention of the international community was on them and their lucrative ill-gotten money.
The pirates started with the positive intention of defending the Somali territorial waters from the illegal foreign shipping companies who were doing a lot of harm to the Somali fishermen.
In this article I would like to illustrate that the Somali pirates brought more harm than good to the Somali people.
To start with, it is true that we can’t cast a blind eye on the positive things attributed to the pirates ranging from the decline of dumping toxic chemicals from the western factories to the increase in the population of aquatic lives. The pirates also created ‘jobs’ for some young men who are either their interpreters or accountants. They also made some sort of ‘investment’ abroad even though that could have been better in Somalia.
The harm that the pirates brought to the Somalis can’t be summarized in this small space. But let me touch on few outstanding problems here and there.
To start with the ill-gotten wealth from piracy put into risk the legitimate wealth of my Somali people. To explain this better, Somalis who are in East Africa are accused of acquiring their wealth from the piracy off the coast of Somalia. This propaganda is spearheaded by non-Somali businessmen and the media at large. In Kenya this issue made the government to announce that it will conduct an audit of property in Kenya, apparently targeting the Somali properties.
Another burden that the pirates brought is inflation. The millions of dollars that they get from the shipping companies as ransom inflate prices against the poor Somalis who almost 70% of them live on less than USD 2 a day.
The hijacking of WFP ships which transport food aid to the hungry Somalis is another evil thing that the pirates have been known for. What sense does it make to ask for ransom on such ships? This clearly demonstrates that the Somali sea gangs are not better that the warlords who were maiming the civilians.
The western powers who don’t give a damn on the Somali crises stood to the occasion to claim that they are best suited to patrol the Somali shores. Even though they are heavily present in the area, the achievement that they have gained is minimal. I squarely blame the pirates for the presence of these multinational navies in the Somali waters for they couldn’t have come if the pirates weren’t there.
The Somali businessmen who operate in East Africa had it rough with their business operations since the beginning of piracy. One of the businessmen told me that the cost of water transportation has risen three times over the past three years making their business less profitable.
The poverty and lawlessness in Somalia can’t justify that Somalis embark of hijacking and robbing of other people’s property.
Somalia may be a really terrible country, they may be pushed into difficult situations and choices, but you cannot deny the simple fact that threatening human life is an inherently bad behavior.
And finally I believe that those who got their wealth from the Somali piracy can’t enjoy the happiness brought by that wealth.