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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pirates kill hostage crew of MV Orna - strong message


How history evolves and how things change over centuries……..

It is a land held high in old legend – the  Land of Punt, held in esteem  by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals.  The land was referred to as  the "land of the god" – the  exact location of Punt is still debated by historians. Most scholars today believe Punt was located to the south-east of Egypt, some scholars feel that possibly the covered both the Horn of Africa and Southern Arabia.

Somalia officially the Federal Republic of Somalia  is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by EthiopiaDjibouti and by Gulf of Aden and the Indian OceanSomalia has the longest coastline on the continent-  Somali and Arabic are the official languages of Somalia, both of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family.  It is a strife torn country reeling under the pressure of long civil unrest.  Peace is yet to return and now there are reports of Somalia’s plans to  attack on Kismayu which is al Shabaab's last stronghold in Somalia after the fall of Marka, and Afmadhow in the Juba area.

For a generation, Somalia has been a byword for the suffering of a failed state. It has lurched from disaster to disaster in the last 21 years, since the central government was toppled by clan militias that later turned on each other. Year after year, Somalia has been ranked as one of the world’s poorest, most violent countries, plagued by warring militias, famine, bandits, warlords and pirates.  Since 2006, the country has faced an insurgency that of  Africa’s most fearsome militant Islamist groups.  There are reports that even when the group receded from several areas at once in 2011, the government was too weak, corrupt, divided and disorganized to mount a claim beyond Mogadishu, the capital, leaving clan warlords, Islamist militias and proxy forces armed by foreign governments to battle it out for the other regions. In August 2012, Somalia convened a new federal Parliament, swearing in a new government to replace the internationally backed transitional government. More than 200 members of Parliament were sworn in. But while the nation’s transitional government has been dissolved, the new government is still considered a caretaker because it was not directly elected and results from a Constitution that has to be ratified by a public referendum- – so it is lawlessness personified. 

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping, impeding movement of vessels, carriage of goods and imposing mortal fear in humans.   It has escalated costs, delayed deliveries and overall brought an uncertainty.  There have been near attempts, threats and some real hijacks – the trauma experienced by those involved is too difficult to be put in words to be understood by those outside.

Vessels attacked by Pirates are no longer prime news though capture are !  At midday on 20 December 2010, the MV ORNA was pirated in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 nautical miles North East of the Seychelles.  The attack reportedly  was launched from 2 attack skiffs, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel. The vessel was stopped and boarded by at least 4 pirates.  The crew was forced to cooperate and no damage was reported at that time. 

The vessel - MV ORNA is a Panama flagged, UAE owned bulk cargo vessel with a dead weight of 27 915 tonnes. That became a news in Dec 2010, and slowly in the busy World people forgot – life in a vessel under the custody of Pirates must have been horrible, that too for such a long time – running closer to its second anniversary.

The vessel is in news again – for wrong reasons as Somali pirates  have killed a Syrian hostage crew member and wounded another to protest delayed ransom payment. This is believed to be the first time Somali pirates have killed a hostage because of a delay in ransom.  Reports quote Hassan Abdi, a pirate commander in Haradhere town, a key pirate center,  state that the killing on Wednesday was a message to the owners of the ship MV Orna that was hijacked off Seychelles in 2010. – a gory message at that.  The commander is quoted as saying - "More killings will follow if they continue to lie to us — we have lost patience with them. Two years is enough," he said angrily. The pirates operating along the Somali coastline of the Indian Ocean were once were believed to be disgruntled and financially motivated Somali fishermen, angry that international trawlers were illegally fishing Somalia's waters. But now criminal gangs are dominating the piracy trade and they have become increasingly violent as international navies attempt to crackdown on their activities.

This sure would send shivers in the spines of those in movement of merchandise and it is time that International Agencies put their act together and act sternly

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Sept. 2012.

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