Freitag, 29. August 2008

The Horn of Africa again emerges on the radar screen of the European Union

It hardly comes as a surprise to those familiar with the Horn of Africa and Somalia in particular that the European Union (EU) is now preparing for a major maritime mission off the coast of Somalia to combat widespread piracy. Piracy has been a looming threat for years at the Bab el-Mandab, one of the worlds most important chokepoints. Though the mission will be an important step in improving security at a shipping lane crucial to the security of the European Union, it will not solve the problem. The core concern should be the collapse of the Somali state in 1991. After the international community withdrew its troops from Somalia in 1995 there was no state to take over duties from the UNOSOM, let alone an effective coast guard. This opened a chance for international corporations to start fishing off the coast but within the territorial waters of Somalia. The trawlers were not observing any quotas and after a very short period of time they had managed to extinguish most fishing grounds and with it one of the most important sources of income for Somali fishing communities. And Somalis, deprived of their natural source of income and food, reverted to one of the last options they had: piracy. While the EU is preparing for the mission, fighting in Somalia continues, even escalates and another famine in the Horn of Africa is developing. Unless the world finally addresses these issues, they better prepare to stay for a very long period of time.
It was back in 2005, when I first wrote on the connection between Somali fishermen and piracy, it might be worthwhile to take a look:

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