Experts call for holistic war against piracy.
International maritime experts are rooting for a multi-pronged approach to eradicate piracy off the Somali coast. They are calling for a land-based strategy, a pointer to the limitations of the on-going sea-based approach. The proposed strategy, seen by The EastAfrican, underscores the importance of matching the current military approach with other land-based incentives.
The recommendations have already been presented to the United Nations and the US government ? key players in the push for stabilisation of sea trade in the region.
?Those young men at sea are not the real pirates, the real ones reside in big towns. They"re using these boys because there are no other jobs in Somalia.
?The international community should come up with job creation strategies to lure these boys from crime (which includes piracy and joining groups like al Shabab,? said security analyst Andrew Mwangura.
The international community, especially the United States, is looking for other strategies to combat the menace that is threatening sea-borne trade between the region and the rest of the world.
This recommendation, according to Mr Mwangura, is expected to form the basis of a policy paper on piracy that the US Congress is expected to work on before the end of the year.
Piracy continues to flourish off the Somali coast despite significant surveillance and prevention efforts by the international community.
The vice has continued to push freight costs through the roof, robbing goods from East Africa of global competitiveness.
Recent statistics from the International Maritime Bureau show that in 2009, pirates attacked 217 ships, with 47 successful hijackings.
They raked in more than $60 million in ransom payments.
A Greek-owned oil tanker late last month was held to a $7 million ransom, the largest payment on record.
Mr Mwangura, one of the participants in the Harvard University meeting that came up with the recommendation in late December last year, said: ?Experts agree that piracy can best be reduced by turning today"s Somali-based pirates into law-abiding, productive citizens on land.?
And a policy brief prepared by 25 maritime experts ? under the Cambridge Coalition to Combat Piracy in conjunction with World Peace Foundation ? states: ?Incentives can wean pirates off their evil pursuits?.A hard-hitting recommendation expected to form the basis of the policy paper on piracy by the US Congress does not rule out use of naval forces. It states that patrols that make successful hijackings less likely should be stepped-up. ?We are also calling for the establishment of an international/Somali body under the UN Security Council to look into allegations of toxic dumping and illegal fishing.? Pirates usually try to justify their actions on these two scores.?This new body should report conclusively within six months to the UN Security Council,? said Mr Mwangura, who is also the coordinator of the East Africa Seafarer"s Assistance programme. Somali pirates say their actions are meant to compensate for illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in their 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone by multi national shipping companies.