Somalia: Pirates Defend Themselves


January 30, 2006: While warlords battle each other, and politicians try to negotiate deals that will make the new government work, over a million Somalis are in danger of starving to death. Most of the country is suffering from drought, thus food production is down. But the pirates off shore, and dozens of different warlord, tribal and bandit militias, make it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get food aid to the starving people. The gunmen collect a "tax" on any food aid that passes their way. Sometimes they will take it all. No country is willing to send peacekeepers to Somalia, not after the ugly experience of the early 1990s, where peacekeepers found the Somali gangs no different than they are today. There is even reluctance to go after the Somali pirates, for fear that the pirates will seize foreign aid workers, and threaten to kill them if captured pirates are not released.

January 29, 2006: Rival warlords in the port of Kismayo fought over control of territory, leaving at least five dead. The land in question contained trees that were used to make charcoal.

January 27, 2006: Somali warlord Garaad Mohamud Mohamed has threatened to kill captured sailors of the United States does not release the ten Somali pirates that were captured on January 21st. Members of the Somali government said that this was a hollow threat.

January 26, 2006: Somali pirates seized another ship, a UAE freighter that was some 240 kilometers off the coast. A Taiwanese fishing boat, however, was released, apparently after a ransom was paid.

January 23, 2006: Not all the illegal operations off the coast are pirates. Another lucrative enterprise is smuggling people into Yemen (and eventually the Persian Gulf or Europe). It's dangerous, with too many people put on decrepit boats. Today, one of those boats capsized off Yemen, tossing 122 Ethiopian and Somali migrants into the water. Several dozen died.

January 21, 2006: A U.S. Navy destroyer seized a Somali pirate ship 87 kilometers off the coast. The pirates made the mistake of operating north, into the range of American warships that patrol the Horn of Africa. These warships are looking for suspicious ship movements in support of terrorist operations.


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