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Friday, May 3, 2013

Somalia ~ Puntland ~ Somaliland..... much more than piracy in Horn of Africa

Somalia continues to be in news……in fact, no case of ship being hijacked by Somali pirates in recent past……. International patrolling and more have contributed to this ! ~ there is news that Somali pirates have released the Danish coaster M/V Leopard after two years in captivity.  Seafarers' Union of Kenya Secretary General Andrew Mwangura said the vessel which was captured in January 2011 was released on Tuesday with six member crew. The latest information comes as the number of attacks off the coast of Somalia related to Somali pirates has reduced drastically with five incidents being reported in the first quarter of 2013 including the hijacking of a fishing vessel and its 20-member crew. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has however warned of complacency in its latest quarterly report, saying the risk of being approached or attacked still exists.

The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. The waterway has great sea traffic and became  "Pirate Alley" ~ Somalians were the main contributors…… Somalia is  located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Ethiopia, Djibouti,  Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Kenya to the southwest.

Away from piracy, Somalia's northern Puntland province executed 13 suspected al-Qaeda-linked militants and security forces were  deployed heavily in the coastal city of Bosasso to ward off any reprisal attacks.  Al Qaeda-linked Somali militants who have dug into parts of the northern Puntland province pledged vengeance.  The scene of action, Puntland is a region in northeastern Somalia, centered on Garowe in the Nugaal province. Its leaders declared the territory anautonomous state in 1998.

Things are not well here… Somalia is emerging from more than two decades of conflict. Last year, Somalis in Somalia chose a new more legitimate parliament and Government. The Government has set out an ambitious plan, the Six Pillar Policy, for rebuilding the country.  Towards this, the UK and Somalia are co-hosting a Conference in London on 7 May to provide international support for the Federal Government’s plans. The Somalia Conference will be one of a sequence of events in 2013 that will support Somalia, including the G8 meetings, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in early June and an EU-hosted conference in September on the New Deal for fragile states. The conference will bring together officials from 50 countries and organisations, including the UN, African Union and International Monetary Fund.

Somalia is badly in need of international assistance ~ nearly 260,000 people died during the famine that hit Somalia from 2010 to 2012, a report reveals.  Sadly, half of them were children under the age of five, says the report by the UN and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network.  The crisis was caused by a severe drought, worsened by conflict between rival groups fighting for power. The number of deaths was higher than the estimated 220,000 people who died during the 1992 famine.  The African region has been attracting International attention owning to hunger deaths, food shortages, famines, conflicts, drought and war ~ all eventually killing poor people. Somalia was worst hit by the extreme drought in 2011 that affected more than 13 million people across the Horn of Africa. Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in search of food. The UN declared the famine over in February 2012. During more than 20 years of civil war, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, rival politicians and Islamist militants battle for control - a situation that has allowed lawlessness to flourish.

Nearer exists another place, a country if one can call so, that of Somaliland, which has a Govt, airport, currency and more…. but not official recognition.  Somaliland unilaterally declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, after the fall of the country's military strongman, Mohamed Siad Barre.

The official Somalia is divided. Puntland in the north is a semi-autonomous state and Somaliland is a functioning state in all but name. Those at Somaliland claim that historically, it has been a different country from Somalia.  Somaliland was British and was independent for five days in 1961, before it opted to join the rest of the country. Those five days though are crucial in legal terms to the government and gives it a basis to claim it was once an independent state. Somaliland has escaped much of the chaos that plagues Somalia although attacks on Western aid workers in 2003 raised fears that Islamic militants in the territory were targeting foreigners. There is thriving private business sector, and the economy is  dependent on money sent home by members of the diaspora. Duties from Berbera, a port used by landlocked Ethiopia, and livestock exports are important sources of revenue. Somaliland's self-proclaimed independence remains unrecognised by any country or international organization but they thrive as a Nation though……..

There is so much happening out there and perhaps not all gets reported Internationally….. Somalia gets more coverage whenever a ship is hijacked….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd May 2013.

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