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Study shows piracy fight almost won
Saturday, May 11, 2013

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A survey by a Kenyan pollster, IPSOS-Synovate, shows that the war against piracy in Somalia is on the verge of being won.

According to the study carried out among local communities, including residents of Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya and South-Central Somalia, support for piracy along the Somali coast has plummeted.

Findings of the survey conducted on behalf of Somali Anti-Piracy Information Centre (SAPIC) reflect a shift from the situation in 2007, when the modern day pirates touted themselves as custodians of unprotected waters of Somalia from illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping.

Speaking at the launch of the survey findings at Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu, SAPIC Chairman Abdullahi Hersi expressed joy at the results: “At 98 per cent discontent, it is clear the Somali people understand that piracy is destructive to the community and that its negative effects far outweigh its material benefits.”

Somali youth

Hersi described SAPIC as a community-owned initiative that seeks to protect the Somali youth and its people against detriments of piracy.

Speaking on behalf of the Somali Federal Government, Deputy Minister of Information, Post and Telecommunication, Abdishakur Ali Mire said the government would work with Somali Anti-Piracy information Center to share information about piracy. He also committed the government in supporting SAPIC campaigns against piracy.

The baseline survey, which was carried out in the towns of Mogadishu, Galkacyo, Cadaado and Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya also recorded significant attitudes, perception and awareness of the practice. During the event, Shekh Nur Baruud Gurhan, a member of Somali Council of Muslim scholars observed that piracy was illegal in Islam and that robbing, raping and killing innocent people was unacceptable in Islam.

“Our youth must accordingly understand that their actions are against the Islamic Shariah,” he said.

The IPSOS-Synovate Research Manager Carolyne Njihia, who explained that the anti- piracy perception among the respondents was partly persuaded by religious faith, shares this view.

“Sixty-eight per cent of the Somali youth view piracy as a criminal and unislamic activity that leads to increased drug abuse and prostitution,” she said, adding that piracy is a recent phenomenon that is deemed dangerous, unacceptable, and untraditional. Also present during the survey launch were members of the business community, civil society, women, and youth.

Former Defense minister and current member of Somali Federal Parliament Hussein Arab Isse suggested that the best way to tackle piracy was to build Somalia’s national defence forces. This, he observed, will help combat piracy and illegal fishing. SAPIC is a non-governmental organization that acts as a focal point in the fight against maritime crime by informing the public about the detrimental effects of piracy, alternative livelihood and sources of income and efforts by local and international organizations to fight piracy.

According to the study, 68 percent of the respondents believe that maritime piracy is a criminal activity that is against the Islamic Shariah. A similar percentage specified that ‘ piracy is destroying the lives of young Somali men’.

Hassan Abshir, who is a former Somali Prime Minister and a current member of Somali Federal Parliament, told the participants that piracy “killed the image of the Somali people and the country, with so many young Somali men dying in the sea and scores suffering in foreign cells”.

Drug abuse

The March 2013 poll additionally shows that piracy is widely perceived as unacceptable practice that deserves prosecution. Findings of the survey further show that 49 per cent of the male respondents attributed increased drug abuse among youth to piracy.  Other notable negative effects of piracy, according to the study, include death at 48 percent, high inflation and the rise of prostitution at 36 percent.

In part, the research found out that the Somali people feel piracy does not contribute to peace in Somalia and it dishonours the country. At the November 2009 UN Security Council Meeting, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon observed that “in the long term, the issue of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia will be resolved only through an integrated approach that addresses the conflict, lack of governance and absence of sustainable livelihoods on land in Somalia”.

While it is important to acknowledge that instances of piracy have declined, experts warn of complacency and assert that eradicating the practice lies in the power of community empowerment.


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