First Published: 2008-07-26

 
UN envoy decries waste dumping off Somalia
 

Reports suggest European companies dump toxic waste off Somalia coast after paying corrupt Somali ministers.

 

Middle East Online

Abdallah: ‘It is a disaster off the Somali coast’

UNITED NATIONS - The UN special envoy for Somalia on Friday sounded the alarm about rampant illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste off the coast of the lawless African nation.

"Because there is no (effective) government, there is so much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries," Ahmedou Ould Abdallah told reporters.

He said he had asked several international non-governmental organizations, including Global Witness, which works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide, "to trace this illegal fishing, illegal dumping of waste."

"It is a disaster off the Somali coast, a disaster (for) the Somali environment, the Somali population," he added.

Ould Abdallah said the phenomenon helps fuel the endless civil war in Somalia as the illegal fishermen are paying corrupt Somali ministers or warlords for protection or to secure fake licenses.

East African waters, particularly off Somalia, have huge numbers of commercial fish species, including the prized yellowfin tuna.

Foreign trawlers reportedly use prohibited fishing equipment, including nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting systems, to lure fish to their traps.

"I am convinced there is dumping of solid waste, chemicals and probably nuclear (waste).... There is no government (control) and there are few people with high moral ground," Ould Abdallah added.

Allegations of waste dumping off Somalia by European companies have been heard for years, according to Somalia watchers. The problem was highlighted in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami when broken hazardous waste containers washed up on Somali shores.

But world attention has recently focused on piracy off Somalia, which has taken epidemic proportions since the country sank into chaos after warlords ousted the late president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Piracy had come to a virtual halt under the rules of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), who took strict measures against the pirates, but since Ethiopian troops helped oust the ICU, the phenomenon returned to Somali shores.

Somalia's coastal waters are now considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, with more than 25 ships seized by pirates there last year despite US navy patrols, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Some Somali pirates have reportedly claimed to be acting as "coastguards" protecting their waters from illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste.

Ould Abdallah cited the case of a Spanish trawler captured by pirates while illegally fishing for tuna off Somalia in April.

He said payment of a ransom for the release of the crew "was done in a very sophisticated manner" with the pirates arranging by phone "to be paid in Macau."

The Spanish government said in late April that it paid no ransom to secure the release of the crew of the Playa de Bakio after six days of captivity. But Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program then said a ransom of 1.2 million dollars (768,000 euros) was paid.

On Friday, Estonia urged the European Union to take stronger action against Somali pirates attacking cargo ships bound for Europe, after an Estonian sailor was held hostage for 41 days.

On Sunday pirates seized a 52,000-tonne Japanese vessel and its 21 crew members off the Somali coast.

 

Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

Hadi vows to ‘extract Yemen from claws of Iran’

US, Russia trade blame for collapse of ceasefire in Syria

Petrofac to resume work in Tunisia after labour dispute

Saudi Arabia reportedly doubts oil output deal

Mosul offensive to start in ‘next few weeks’

New wave of air strikes pummels Aleppo

Morocco asks to rejoin African Union

Air raids pound rebel-held Aleppo

Turkey arrests prominent writer brothers

Egypt shipwreck death toll rises to 133

Gulen says will return to Turkey if US backs extradition

Occupation troops shoot, wound Palestinian with knife

UN eyes alternate aid delivery route for Syria's Aleppo

Iran condemns Saudi strikes in Yemen

Turkey's Erdogan says US arming Syrian Kurds

Obama to block Saudi 9/11 prosecution

Oil prices ease as focus shifts to producers' meeting

Opposition 'minister' among 12 dead in Syria car bomb

'13 dead' in clashes with IS in Libya's Sirte

20 civilians killed in Yemen rebel port raid

Turkish border town hit by rocket fired from Syria

Syria's White Helmets win Swedish human rights prize

UN pleads with Assad over food aid stuck at Syria border

Rouhani jabs USA over nuclear deal in UN address

Dozens more feared dead in Egypt boat tragedy

US breaks 'taboo' on Iran trade, banking

Kuwait MP gets new jail term for insulting Gulf rulers

Kuwait MPs demand urgent debate on petrol price hike

Dozens of rebels leave Homs under deal with Assad regime

Push for Iraq's Mosul faces myriad challenges

US drone strike kills 3 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

UN hopes Syria talks can resume in a 'few weeks'

Iraq forces recapture northern town from ISIS

Greece rejects asylum claim of Turkish 'coup' officer

Raids set rebel areas of Syria's Aleppo ablaze

Yemen rebels accuse detained American of spying

Israel arrests 35 Palestinians in raids

Bahrain court upholds dissolution of main Shiite opposition group

Turkey frees top journalist, arrests academic brother in coup probe

Kerry, Lavrov discuss Syria in New York

Jewish settlers make last stand on Palestinian hill

Ethiopia says Nile dam to go ahead regardless of impact study

Calls for 1988 Iran massacre probe as tape emerges

Four medics killed in strike on Syria clinic