Somali Anti-Piracy Information Centre hosted its eighth edition of its town hall meetings in Jazeera Palace Hotel, Mogadishu on 26th June 2014.
The event’s agenda “Somali People’s View and Perceptions on Piracy’’ created a platform to officially share the people’s views and reasons behind the decline of Piracy activity in Somalia.
Somali people’s negative attitude towards piracy has stood out at 90% as revealed by research survey conducted by IPSOS’s in April 2014. Respondents condemned piracy not only as illegal but also a stain on the country’s image.
The town hall meeting was to provide an avenue for sharing the survey report as well as understand the participants’ views on piracy and factors that motivate piracy. The presence of a functional government would have deterred people from engaging in piracy as stated by Muhamed Abdulkadir who pointed out that the Somalia federal government has to come up with rehabilitation programmes for former pirates.
Sheikh Bashir, Chairman of the Somali National Islamic Scholars during the town hall meeting maintained that the society should not condone the youth to pursue piracy as a source of livelihood as it is both a crime and unacceptable in the Somali tradition and Islam. “No one should be allowed to prevent others from using the international waters to navigate on the high seas and anyone interfering with the safe passage of the international waters should be persecuted accordingly”.
In response to the international community’s engagement in fighting piracy, Chairman of South Central None State Actors Civil Society Organization South CENSA), Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwa asserted in a statement that “research has been conducted on Somali Piracy alone but we would also like research to be conducted on illegal fishing, dumping of toxic waste and other criminal activities taking place in the Somali waters by foreign vessels”. In addition, the senior advisor to the president emphasized the need for the international community’s support on the fight against piracy. “As a government, we are committed to fight piracy by all means, but it is vital that international community lends our institutions a supportive hand”.
The survey report which was conducted in Galkayo, Dadaab and Mogadishu established the positive shift in attitudes and opinions; however, opinions related to the economic effects of piracy were hard to create a mind shift with the respondents in the absence of alternative livelihood options. Even though a significant positive attitudinal shift was recorded at 82% in the end-line survey, respondents underlined that as long as unemployment exists, piracy activities may not be eradicated.
Key participants in the event included, representatives from the Office of the President, Civil Society, Board of religious leaders, National Women Group and National Youth Council.