Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’
The oceans have become the dumping grounds of the world and the technology age is ensuring human beings are eating toxic fish caught off the African coastline.
A report published by the Global Post has revealed some grim statistics:
100 million: The weight, in tons, of all plastic litter in the world’s oceans.
13,000: The estimated number of plastic pieces, on average, in one square kilometer of ocean
8 million: The number of pieces of marine litter, from ships and land runoff, that enter the oceans each day
1.69 billion: The weight, in pounds, of cigarette butts littered each year
3,454,542: The number of cigarette butts that wash up on the Pacific coast of America each month
600: The approximate lifespan, in years, of the most durable plastics in the ocean
3: The number of years the World Wildlife Fund claims it will take for Mediterranean Blue fin Tuna to go extinct
3 billion: The number of people worldwide who rely on the ocean for essential nutrition.
Ever wonder what happens to that mobile phone you just toss away when you get the latest model? Or what happens to the old computer or lap top when the affluent of the world gets the newest upgrade?
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(Above: There is an ever increasing amount of electronic waste in the world)
It is estimated that up to 80 % of America’s electronic waste or e waste ends up in the oceans of Ghana, Namibia and India.
According to estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency, around 40 million computers are discarded each year in the US alone.
It costs about €3.50 to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor in Germany. But it costs only €1.50 to stick it on a container ship to Ghana.
The world produces between 30 – 50 million tons of e waste according to Time Magazine and much of it lands up in African coastal waters.
The ironic part about dumping of e waste off the coast of Ghana is that America imported about $ 12 million of tuna from Ghana in 2008, many of which could be contaminated with cadmium, mercury and arsenic from discarded computers and lap tops.
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(Above: Fishermen from Ghana head out to sea to try catch some of the ever dwindling stocks of fish off their coastline)
The Somalian pirates have stated in the past that they hijack ships to ensure those responsible for dumping toxic waste in their territorial waters were taxed. Funnily enough the acts of piracy off Somalia will probably ensure the restocking of the fish population of Somalia.
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(Above: The Somalian coast guard. Are they guarding against illegal dumping of e waste in their waters as well as against pirates?)
As catches diminish for the Ghanaian fishermen and their fish become more and more toxic will they too be forced to become pirates of the high seas to ensure their survival?
The Obama administration’s foreign policy is about to be defined. Who would have thought that the War in Iraq and Afghanistan would end up dominating the Bush Years? Now Somalia, a lawless country in the Horn of Africa and not far from Barack Obama’s ancestral roots could end having a significant impact on his presidency.
America will be out of Iraq by 2011 but already new battlefields are looming. The dramatic sea rescue of Captain Richard Phillips who had been captured by Somalian pirates is going to change and shape United States foreign policy during the Obama tenure.
President Obama did not fool around as the situation unfolded and ordered US Special Forces to engage the pirates should the life of Capt Phillips be in imminent danger. It took three exceptional shots from a distance by the Navy Seal snipers, using night vision scopes to kill all thee pirates on the raft without endangering the life of the trussed up Capt Phillips.
Earlier another pirate, who had been wounded in the hand when crew took back the hijacked Maersk Alabama, had left the life raft to seek medical attention from the Americans for his wounds. He remains in US custody.
Ship owners have been quite happy to pay ransom money to pirates for the safe return of hijacked ships and unharmed sailors in the Gulf of Aden. However, French Special Forces stormed a hijacked French yacht and killed the pirates as well the owner of the yacht in the beginning of April. The assassination of the Somalian pirates by the US Navy has upped the stakes considerably.
The Somalians have not taken long to carry out their promise for revenge against the Americans for killing their countrymen. An attempt to kill United States congressman, Donald Payne was made in Mogadishu on Easter Monday when mortars where fired at his airplane.
Payne had told reporters he met with Somalia’s president and prime minister during his one-day visit to Mogadishu to discuss piracy, security and cooperation between Somalia and the United States
Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by al Shabaab, a hard line Islamic insurgent group. Al Shabaab has been fighting in an Iraq style civil war in Somalia since the Islamic Courts Union was thrown out of power by the opposition, backed by Ethiopia in December 2006.
By December 2008 al Shabaab has taken hold of south and central Somalia in a two-year insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian military allies.
The mortar attack on the US congressman, presumably on behalf of the pirates, is being used by Islamic fighters to entice the United States onto another battlefield.
The decision by Barack Obama to use force against the pirates will see retaliation against America, partly from the pirates themselves but also from insurgency forces who will rouse the masses by saying they are defending sovereign soil against the foreign invader.
This war will be a bit different to Iraq and Afghanistan as sea warfare will be involved on the Somalian front.
“Foreign powers want to divide the country (Somalia] and the pirates are protecting the coast against the enemies of Allah,” Abu Mansur, an al Shabaab spokesman said on Radio Garowe. .
Just how far Obama must go down the pirate fighting route is a difficult question. It may be in the interests of America to allow leadership of a multi national force to go the French and to take a bit of a back seat in the War on Piracy.
Should ground forces be used to attack pirate lairs along the Somalian coastline, Al Queda aligned fighters from Africa and abroad could flock to Somalia to engage the enemy on a new front.
George Bush did not think of the consequences when he invaded a backwater country like Afghanistan and now America finds itself bogged down in a brutal guerilla war that has no end in sight.
President Obama must not make the same mistake in Somalia. The only losers should hostilities escalate, will be the people of Somalia who have suffered enough already.
Obama has signaled his intention to continue with the new American foreign policy of constructive engagement by sending an envoy to Mogadishu to engage with the Somalian government. An attempt on the life of Donald Payne must not cloud the judgment now.
Diplomacy is the answer to the pirate problem along the east coast of Africa. Nobody can fault America or France for looking after their citizens. Somalia must not be allowed to become the next Iraq either.