Somali pirates to get booty?

SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images Remember those nasty Somali pirates I wrote about last week? Pirate associates told international media today that a ransom of $8 million could be paid — and the ship released — as soon as tomorrow. If my math is right, those same bandits have made at least $60 million so far this ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
592187_081008_somalia2.jpg
592187_081008_somalia2.jpg

SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Remember those nasty Somali pirates I wrote about last week? Pirate associates told international media today that a ransom of $8 million could be paid -- and the ship released -- as soon as tomorrow.

If my math is right, those same bandits have made at least $60 million so far this year (there have been more than 60 boats attacked, and the average ransom is between $1 and $2 million).

SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Remember those nasty Somali pirates I wrote about last week? Pirate associates told international media today that a ransom of $8 million could be paid — and the ship released — as soon as tomorrow.

If my math is right, those same bandits have made at least $60 million so far this year (there have been more than 60 boats attacked, and the average ransom is between $1 and $2 million).

Piracy on the Somali coast is a long-running problem, tied indelibly to the crisis depicted in last week’s Photo Essay. But unlike the usual quartz-quality catch, this time, the fishermen-turned-pirates struck gold — or at least steel. The ship they held hostage housed tanks and other heavy arms coming from Ukraine.

Rumors has it the shipment was headed for the autonomous government of Southern Sudan. Maybe it was just headed for Kenya. It’s alarming that no one knows, and we never would have had an inkling had the pirates not jumped in. Ukraine says it has done no wrong either way.

Government officials in neighboring Kenya have called for international powers to use force against the pirates. But the “pirate associate” who spoke to Reuters makes a good point:

The world has repeatedly voted to fight pirates, but if the situation were a piece of cake, then the American ship would not just be watching the Ukrainian ship.”

For now, in other words, everyone will just have to live with the pirates getting their loot. Oh, what one could buy with 8 million bucks in a country where the GDP per capita is $600.

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

Tag: Africa

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