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Piracy Likened To ‘Blood Diamonds’ Trafficking

UN Envoy Likens Piracy Off Somalia To ‘Blood Diamonds’ Trafficking

New York, Sep 29 2008 4:10PM

Rampant piracy off the Somali coast, demonstrated by the latest hijacking of a Ukrainian ship carrying heavy weapons, can be likened to so-called ‘blood diamonds,’ the illicit trafficking in gems used to finance civil wars in West Africa in recent years, the top United Nation's envoy for the strife-torn Horn of Africa country said today.

“There is a striking similarity between the actions of these unscrupulous pirates and the activity in blood diamonds in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the civil wars in these countries,” Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah declared in a news release.

“No ship, big or small, industrial or commercial, civil or military is spared. With the seizure of the Ukrainian ship a new line has been crossed. This act should not and will not be rewarded.”

Currently some dozen ships are being held by pirates, generally for heavy ransom, and Mr. Ould-Abdallah said piracy had become a multi-million dollar business attracting many Somalis using various political or social covers.

Piracy has driven the price of insurance and subsequently retail prices higher in the whole region, adding to the sharp rise in oil and food costs to make life even harder for the poor, he added. He called on journalists not to allow themselves to be used to broadcast messages from the pirates or help glorify their actions.

“The international community is determined to stop these pirates who are undermining efforts to bring peace to Somalia and maintain stability in the region,” he declared. “This cannot and will not be allowed to continue.”

UN food operations in Somalia have been directly impaired by the pirates who have seized numerous chartered boats carrying supplies for the UN World Food Programme (WFP).


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