Somalia has seen less Piracy due to improved governance: expert

Improved governance has contribution significantly to the reduction in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia in the past few years, the Somali government and experts have said.

Speaking to Xinhua in separate interviews, the experts and officials urged the Somali government to rebuild its Navy to protect the country’s territorial waters and marine resources to help the Horn of Africa nation secure its marine resources.

Farah Ahmed Qare, a former Somali Navy commander said the setting up of federation units in the Horn of Africa nation has stabilized the government to thus enhanced the fight against piracy.

“Piracy has dramatically declined because of the federal states formation in Somalia.

“This has decentralised the fight against piracy once bestowed on the central government which has not had sufficient ability to deal with these cases. Currently federal states run their own military units, some which have helped to deter piracy,” Qare told Xinhua in an interview.

The experts said the positive development also reflects the combined efforts of navies in the region, along with greater compliance with the Best Management Practices (BMP) guidelines against Somali piracy, the employment of private security contractors and a stabilizing government.

The International Maritime Bureau announced this month piracy in the Indian Ocean waters had declined to an all time low with no cases of Somali based attacks.

The global maritime watchdog, however warned Somalia remains a fragile state, and the potential for an attack remains high, noting it will only take one successful hijacking to undo all that has been done, and rekindle this criminal activity.”

The World Bank reported in 2014 that since the first attack in 2005, pirates have netted between 315 million U.S. dollars and 385 million dollars in ransom paid from the 149 ships seized so far.

The entry of China into the anti-piracy campaign in 2010 under the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (Shade) to protect a shipping corridor in the western Indian Ocean has contributed a great deal to the decline of hijacking in the Indian Ocean waters.

The increasing trade in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden in addition to war on piracy in the region has led to enlarged interest among major powers.

It is estimated more than 21,000 ships cross the Gulf of Aden annually thus the need to protect them from piracy.

Chinese-funded port development projects in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa have largely contributed to its increased presence in the Gulf besides playing its role in global security.

The projects include the port of Lamu in Kenya, Kyaukphyu in Myanmar and Sri Lanka’s Colombo among others.

A report by the US-based Secure Fisheries warned illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing on Somali waters was posing a threat to the resurgence of piracy in Somalia.

The report noted the “value of the foreign catch” is estimated at 306 million dollars, compared with the Somali catch, valued at 58 million dollars.

Mohamed Omar Dalha, Somali lawmaker and Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee concurs with the argument on illegal fishing.

Dalha told Xinhua that efforts by Somali and international naval forces were being hampered by illegal trawling which he says is now the reason behind a possible return of piracy.

Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte announced last week Somalia was going to rebuild its navy to deal with illegal fishing which was fast becoming a threat to its sea resources.

“It is the responsibility of our marine forces to ensure our marine territory and all resources thereof are protected from any illegal fishing.

“We will therefore invest in rebuilding the naval forces so that it can handle this task effectively,” said Arte.

The Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme under the auspices of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNDOC has seen the establishment of prison facilities to handle transfer of Somali pirates from other jurisdictions.

The prisons are based in the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa and Madhera, Puntland hosting the Bosaso and Garowe prisons.

These prisons offer vocational training for former pirates to enable them reintegrate effectively into the society after release.