Tackle the piracy problem

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Tackle the piracy problem

Somali pirates have hijacked another South Korean vessel. The 241-ton trawler Keummi 305 - which has a crew consisting of two Koreans, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans - was attacked in the waters off Lamu Island, Kenya.

The incident comes just six months after another ship, an oil tanker called Samho Dream, was forcefully taken by pirates. The whereabouts of the five South Koreans on board that ship remain unknown.

The number of South Korean flagships or vessels that have been overtaken by pirates is now at seven. Piracy off the coast of Somalia remains a major threat despite efforts by multinational coalitions to prevent it. Nations must band together to come up with new methods of preventing and combating piracy because old methods obviously aren’t working too well. Moreover, these new strategies should reflect the structural problems that lead Somalis to turn to piracy as a means of earning a living.

Piracy started to escalate following the outbreak of civil war in Somalia. Armed pirates now focus primarily on sea routes between the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, earning more than $100 million a year by hijacking foreign vessels. According to the International Maritime Organization, Somali pirates attacked 111 vessels in 2008, successfully capturing 42 of them. They demanded millions of dollars in ransom money in each case. The pirates usually negotiate directly with the ships’ owners through international gangs and intelligence networks, leaving governments out in the cold.

The United Nations Security Council enacted Resolution 1838 in October 2008, giving a multinational coalition force the go-ahead to combat piracy. Korea and another 27 countries have deployed warships to regions near the African country. Still, 22 ships carrying 387 crew members remained in captivity as of July. The dysfunctional role of the Somali government is one of the biggest reasons that piracy is still going strong. The transitional government does not wield effective control over military forces, and it can do little to pursue pirates operating from bases on its coasts.

Somalia is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, with an annual per capita gross domestic product of just $600. To Somali youth, piracy might look like a dream job. But international sea routes cannot continue to be disrupted. A better solution is to divert the ransom money to help Somali authorities end the country’s civil war and improve the lives of the people.
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