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Pirates; Heores or Criminals


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Since the the second phase of the Somalian Civil War, this issue has been a matter of extreme concern to international organisations. Contributing to the increase of shipping costs and putting at risk the safety of marine workers, Somali pirates are now the main oceanic criminals in the world and have been making millions and millions of dollars due to this illegal activity.

Most of the pirates are between 20 and 35 years old, they reside in the region of Puntland, in north-eastern Somalia and the scariest part is that they are very well organized. The Somali Marines, considered to be the most sophisticated pirate group, operates with their own military structure of a fleet admiral, admiral, vice-admiral and a head of financial operations. The heavily armed rebels have also the advantage of a deep knowledge of the Indian Ocean and are willing to attack any one navigating on the Somali shore. The pirates are considered a huge threat to exporters and sadly also to the Somali population.

Although the pirates are recognized as pure criminals and have been charged with serious offences such as rape, murder and kidnapping, they acknowledge themselves as heroes and lamentably part of the Somali population thinks the same way. Since the beginning of Somalia's civil war in 1991, it's coast has been a targeted area for illegal toxic waste dumping by European companies. Due to the unlawful activity, many inhabitants of the Indian Coast have developed cases of respiratory infections, mouth ulcers and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections. Consequently the fishermen, that now are considered pirates, have been trying to protect the area however, in their own way.

Secondly, illegal fishing has been also an active exercise on the Indian Sea. an estimate of $300 million worth of tuna, shrimp and lobster have been depleting the stocks of local fishermen. As an response, armed interferences made with speedboats demanding the payment of the made up tax or compensation has been common over the recent years. This is a very serious issue as the honest fishermen is the one that suffers the most. 75% of Somalia's population lives under a budget of $2 dollars a day and many natives needs to fish so they can feed their families and also themselves. Correspondingly, the illegal fishing occurring in Somalia has been discussed by influential organisations such as the UNCLOS and even the UN.

After all, the media does not see the pirates with such an heroic enthusiasm. Almost every week now, reports on the Somali Pirates have been written and they don't look good. Statistics show that there are 19 ships being held by the pirates in the moment and more than 400 hostages are being kept in captivity. The numbers are impressive and demonstrates that the situation in the Indian Ocean is way out of control. Companies are being obligated to hire severe maritime security consultants, to protect their ships when navigating to the Middle East, China and Australia.

Foreign Naval forces are operating in the area to fight the issue, world leaders are also trying to agree on a solution to stop the pirates from hijacking their local ships however, no concrete solution has been developed yet. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has extended their anti-piracy operations until 2012 while the UN is strongly pressuring the Somali governments to take further actions on the issue. Let's just hope it will be resolved soon.

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