Watching the BBC news last night I felt my hackles starting to rise over an item relating to the imminent famine in Somalia : The refusal of the Kenyan government to open a nearly completed refugee facility close to Dadaad camp which has been overwhelmed by the recent influx of refugees.Check out the full video report here
The venting started much to the resigned sighing of the Captain who has heard it all before and is well used to having his spouse verbally erupting and raging at the television in indignation and disbelief.
He maintains a calm and resolute silence having been in Africa in his younger days and seen the reality of what happened to aid arriving in ships to help famine victims. Whilst I would love to share his experiences with you, it is his story to tell, not mine. However, he has never given to famine relief since, believing the situation to be the same now as then and this from a man who is as caring and concerned as they come.
What he did do was bring the Somalian pirates into the equation which took us off on a completely different tangent.
For the record he has a professional interest in piracy on the high seas, Somalia being very high profile. It’s one subject he does know about, and his comment was uttered in exasperation after the newsreader reported that in the 48 hours since it was announced money was needed for famine relief the Brits had donated £9 million.
“Nine million? Nine million? What good is nine million? That’s just two-and-a-bit ships to the pirates.”
It seems the pirates have upped their ransom demands in the last year from US$2m to US$5m per ship.
Let me say at this point that I have an interest too, not professional but pastoral. Being the Godmother of a ship sprayed by pirates’ bullets mere months after her launch makes it very, very personal.
The Captain and I haven’t talked pirates for a while, not because all is quiet on the swashbuckling front but because it has become a fact of life which doesn’t look as if it’s going away anytime soon. Running the gauntlet of piracy has almost become a commercial risk worth taking, given the length of time (and time is money) to detour round the Cape instead of through the Suez Canal.
By all accounts the perpetrators of these crimes are not of the Johnny Depp variety, rather thugs and gangsters that would make the mafia look like members of the parochial church council on a summer picnic.
It seems the Somalian buccaneers could do with an image makeover and perhaps I might make a suggestion?
Should any Captains of piracy be reading this, it might do an awful lot for your street cred if you were to re-think pirate policy and improve your global image.
As of now, you are public enemy number one on the high seas with no groundswell of support from the Somalian populace. It may be worth following USA lines of gaining ‘hearts and minds’ with your own people.
Use the ransom money – some of it at least – to feed your fellow countrymen and you’ll have a loyal following for life, a global perception as humanitarians and a legitimate presence in the commercial world, which will accept the business of piracy as a necessary inconvenience in the bigger picture.
Just a thought.