Roots of Somali Piracy

Long- and short-term solution

Amid the recent spate of ship abductions, the International Seafarers’ Action Center (ISAC) Philippines Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization which promotes the rights and welfare of Filipino seamen, issued a statement urging for long and short-term solutions to the kidnapping problem in the Gulf of Aden.

“While it is impossible for ships not to pass the Gulf of Aden, since it is one of the most important waterways in the world, what can be avoided is the illegal dumping of toxic wastes and the degradation of marine coastal resources that has affected the coastal communities and Somali fisherfolks, which provoke ship attacks,” said maritime labor lawyer and ISAC secretary-general Joseph T. Entero.

“However, these decades-long issues cannot be resolved by military action alone. The heroic Rambo attack made by US Naval Forces just to rescue one American captain, Captain Richard Phillips, only aggravates the already volatile situation. We at ISAC call on the United Nations and influential states to step in to provide diplomatic and development solutions to the crisis besetting Somalia, which is necessary,” Entero added.

He also said that it is only through addressing the economic and environmental problems in the Gulf of Aden that peace could be realized in the area.

The Gulf of Aden

The Gulf of Aden is situated in the Arabian Sea between Yemen on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. It connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, about 20 miles or 32.186 kilometers, in the northwest.

Throughout history, the said part of the world’s ocean has played a very important role in international trade and commerce.

The city of Crater, located just east of the modern city of Aden, was an important port in regional trade. Crater was the principal harbor of the pre-Islamic kingdom of Awsan, and after its annexation by the kingdom of Saba at the end of the 5th century, the port of Crater played a significant role in connecting Africa with Arabia.

Being a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, it has become an integral waterway in the world economy. The main ports along the gulf are Aden in Yemen, and Zeila, Berbera, and Bosaso in Somalia, which are considered trade centers in the Horn of Africa.

It is said that about 11 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum passes through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries.(

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