March 11, 2011

Security risks caused by poverty and environmental degradation

LA Times "It has become apparent that real piracy is far different from the lighthearted subject sometimes portrayed in popular culture, and the problem is growing much worse." By Shannon Beebe

'Besides the tragic cost in lives, the U.S., many other nations and NATO spent roughly $2 billion combined last year to safeguard the busy international sea lanes off the Horn of Africa from Somali pirates. According to the International Maritime Bureau, "hijackings off the coast of Somalia accounted for 92% of all ship seizures last year," and the price tag does not include the costs of reallocating critical military resources.

'Sadly, much of this could have been avoided had the world made a stronger commitment to conservation and environmental protection years earlier. Somalia provides a classic example of how problems related to poverty and the environment are increasingly evolving into traditional international security risks.

'For example, the issue of overfishing, particularly by foreign vessels, was very low on the international community's radar when the government of Somalia collapsed in the 1990s.The combination of rich fishing opportunities and a complete inability of the government to police its waters drew fleets from countries far and near, setting the stage for the instability to come. The greatest harm was done by European and Asian vessels that plundered the fisheries off Somalia's coast.'

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