MANILA, Philippines – A nongovernment seafarers’ advocacy group said a $20,000 (P965, 046.25) donation approved by Malacanang to a United Nations trust fund to support Somali security institutions would not end piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Days before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s state of the nation address (SONA) on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced her approval of the donation.
The UN fund will be used by Somalia’s Ethiopia and US-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to beef up its security forces, which are seen to play a critical role in combating piracy on the sea and their principals on land, the DFA said.
It added that Filipino seafarers continue to be victims of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. To date, 44 Filipino seafarers remain in the custody of Somali pirates.
Donating won’t solve the problem
But lawyer Joseph T. Entero, secretary general of International Seafarers’ Action Center Philippines Foundation Inc. (ISAC) said the problem in Somalia is not the lack of a state armed force but poverty, which has pushed Somali people into piracy.
“To be able to stop all of these, the world governments must, (1) reassess the entire situation and find the solution to Somali people’s plight; (2) ensure that the dumping of toxic waste to the Somalia coast and open waters stops; (3) develop strategies and plans about how these militants-turned-pirates surrender their guns, talk and help to develop their country’s economic and political situation; and (4) that the warlords, who finance these criminal activities be hold accountable to the full extent of the law,” Entero said.
Toxic wastes, illegal fishing fuel piracy
During the spate of ship abductions and crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Aden, reports of rampant dumping of wastes in Somali waters by international fleets passing through the waterway caught the attention of international media.
Johann Hari, columnist of London’s Independent said the dumping of wastes in Somalia’s waters had help push Somalis people, the ones called pirates by the international community, to defend their shores.
He reported that after the tsunami of 2005, barrels and barrels of nuclear wastes had washed up on the shore of Somalia.
As a result of exposure to these toxic wastes, people are suffering from strange rashes, nausea and women that had given birth to malformed babies, Hari said in his column in April 2009.
He added these toxic wastes later killed 300 people.
UN envoy to Somalia confirms reports
United Nations (UN) Special Envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah confirmed the situation outlined by Hari.
Last year, Ould Abdallah had sounded the alarm, not only about the toxic wastes being dumped into Somali seas as well as the spate of illegal fishing in the area.
Because there is no effective government, there is so much irregular fishing by European and Asian countries.
The UN envoy also revealed that he had already asked several international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including Global Witness, which works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide, to trace the source of this illegal fishing and the illegal dumping of waste.
The East African waters, particularly off Somalia, are rich in commercial fish species, including the prized yellow fin tuna.
Foreign trawlers reportedly use prohibited fishing equipment, including nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting systems, to lure fish to their traps.
Ould Abdallah cited the case of a Spanish trawler captured by “pirates” while illegally fishing for tuna off Somalia in April.
These phenomena,” Ould Abdallah said, “help fuel the endless civil war in Somalia as the illegal fishermen are paying corrupt Somali ministers or warlords for protection or to secure fake licenses.”
Support for anti-piracy campaign, Somali security forces pour in
TFG’s security forces and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) are presently reliant mainly on international support in the form of funding, logistics and equipment for continued operations.
The need for funds had pushed the UN to sign the Security Council Resolution 1863 last January 16, which provided for the establishment of a United Nations trust fund that will raise funds to provide financial support for AMISOM until a UN peacekeeping operation is deployed to Somalia.
The UN, the DFA reports, has established two separate trust funds – the Trust Fund in Support for AMISOM and the Trust Fund in Support of the Somali Transitional Security Institutions; the latter is the recipient of the $20,000 donation by the Philippines.
The Trust Fund in Support of the Somali Transitional Security Institutions will be managed by the UN Political Office for Somalia.
During the April 23 International Conference in Support of the Somali Security Institutions and AMISOM, which was held n Brussels, there are 30 countries and organizations which have expressed their support to the Trust Fund, during the pledging session.
This donor conference was convened by the UN Secretary-General under the joint auspices of the African Union, European Union, and the UN in line with UNSC Resolution1863, the DFA reported.
RP’s anti-piracy solution
As an answer to the problem of piracy, the Philippine government has imposed a ban on the deployment of Filipino seafarers in the Gulf of Aden and surrounding areas.
Recently, Malacañang had announced the designating of a Philippine navy officer to act as naval liaison to the Combined Maritime Forces in Manama, Bahrain, as part of its effort to give a halt to piracy.
The Combined Maritime Forces is a multinational task force conducting maritime security operations throughout the region.
The DFA also said during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s trip to Japan, she has obtained the assurance of Japanese government that it will help secure Filipino and other seafarers against pirates in the Gulf of Aden through the dispatch of vessels and maritime patrol aircrafts. (Dateline Philippines)