Somalia: Piracy on the rise again, US military says
Piracy off the coast of Somalia is on the rise again, according to US military officials.
After years of relative calm in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa nation, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who is in charge of the US Africa command, says there have been multiple incidents in the past two months.
Piracy on the rise again
Speaking at a news conference in Somalia on Sunday, Waldhauser said the reemergence of piracy in the area is likely due to the severe drought and famine that’s consumed much of the country over the last year.
He revealed the ships targeted in recent attacks were small in size, carrying food and other goods.
This is in stark contrast to the kind of ships that were targeted during the peak of piracy in Somali waters, which often included valuable commercial ships and ransom demands for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
However, anti-piracy measures from the international community all but wiped out the activity in 2013. This has changed in recent months.
US military to monitor the situation
US military officials in the area say they will monitor the situation around Somalia, but that’s all they’re assigned to do in the area. Local authorities and missions led by the European Union are currently responsible for assessing the threat of piracy and this hasn’t changed – at least not yet.
One theory, offered by an official who asked to remain anonymous, is that shipping companies have become complacent with their security measures since piracy in the area declined.
Last month, Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker – the first commercial ship to be seized since 2012 – but later released the vessel and crew without receiving any ransom payment. This month an Indian ship was also seized by pirates, who released the cargo vessel but held on to nine out of the ship’s eleven crew. The remaining crew members were released shortly after.
The EU has called for renewed efforts to battle the resurgence of piracy off the coast of Somalia.
Featured image: By Mass communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky – Images taken from a picture of the at http://www.navy.mil/management/photodb/photos/081109-N-1082Z-051.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5257389