Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Somalia: Pirates – and Dumping

This is a report from BBC News. I published a piece previously on Somalia on March 11, and blogger Shafi said the following:

“When wealthier nations align their fleet of vessels at Somali coast to fish illegally (estimated at around $6 million as the article says) and dump toxic waste in some parts of the water, aren’t they doing a greater evil and a major harm to the shell-shattared country and her people than the pirates for whom piracy is itself a survival method?”

The statement caught me totally by surprise. I went looking to see if it was true, and it was.

Shafi has a fascinating blog, and if you have some time, go take a look. Meanwhile, I am happy to see glimpses of a fuller picture coming forth in the news:


Ex-Somali Army Colonel Mohamed Nureh Abdulle lives in Harardhere – the town closest to where the hijacked Saudi oil tanker, Sirius Star is moored. He tells the BBC, via phone from his home, that the town’s residents are more concerned about the apparent dumping of toxic waste than piracy.

The Harardhere-born military man advises the town’s elders on security matters and is in his fifties.
Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991 – when its last national government was forced from power.

The super-tanker is close to our coast. It is a very, very long ship. Some time ago we had our own problems of piracy in our town but that has not happened lately.

The people who have been hijacking these ships in our seas are not from our region. We do not know any of the guys on the super-tanker and they haven’t made any contact with us.

You know, our problem is not piracy. It is illegal dumping.

These problems have been going for sometime and the world knows about it. The Americans have been here in the region for a long time now – they know about the pollution.

Instead, no, the world is only talking about the pirates and the money involved.

Mysterious illnesses
Meanwhile, there has been something else going on and it has been going on for years. There are many dumpings made in our sea, so much rubbish.

It is dumped in our seas and it washes up on our coastline and spreads into our area.

A few nights ago, some tanks came out from the high sea and they cracked it seems and now they are leaking into the water and into the air.

The first people fell ill yesterday afternoon. People are reporting mysterious illnesses; they are talking about it as though it were chicken pox – but it is not exactly like that either. Their skin is bad. They are sneezing, coughing and vomiting.

This is the first time it has been like this; that people have such very, very bad sickness.

The people who have these symptoms are the ones who wake early, before it is light, and herd their livestock to the shore to graze. The animals are sick from drinking the water and the people who washed in the water are now suffering.

TimesOnline ran an article on Somalia after the tsunami, and the contaminants that had been washed ashore:

“The current situation along the Somali coastline poses a very serious environmental hazard not only in Somalia but also in the eastern Africa sub-region,” the report says. Toxic waste was first dumped in Somalia in the late 1980s, but accelerated sharply during the civil war which followed the 1991 overthrow of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Local warlords, many of them former ministers in Siad Barre’s last government, received large payments from Swiss and Italian firms for access to their respective fiefdoms.

Most of the waste was simply dumped on remote beaches in containers and leaking disposable barrels.

Somali sources close to the trade say that the dumped materials included radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and various other toxic wastes. In 1992, Unep said that European firms were involved in the trade, but because of the high level of insecurity in the country there were never any accurate assessments of the extent of the problem.

In 1997 and 1998, the Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana, which jointly investigated the allegations with the Italian branch of Greenpeace, published a series of articles detailing the extent of illegal dumping by a Swiss firm, Achair Partners, and an Italian waste broker, Progresso.

The news is so much more complicated than it appears. How do we stop all these wrongful, hurtful things? Do not we have a responsibility toward the poorest nations? If we – meaning the richest nations – don’t stop this dumping now, is there not every chance in the world that it will come back to haunt us?

November 21, 2008 - Posted by | Africa, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News, Social Issues |


  1. Somali pirates are a bunch of thieves who have nothing to lose by creating chaos on the high seas .

    The only way to treat them is to wipe them from the face of the earth ,the sooner the better . They are hardly the environmentalist the report made them to be . They themselves are a toxic human waste .

    Comment by daggero | November 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. These pirates are not human waste but are patriots safeguading the Somali seas from Arabian and asian theives who steal fish from Somalia. They are guarding against toxic dumping by greedy companies in the Somali seas.
    Any one who is against that is selfish

    Comment by Mo Mo | November 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. poverty creates chaos! Those tankers need better protection!

    Comment by Ansam | November 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. Daggero, you make me feel like dancing sometimes, in that you really read all the blog entries, silly ones and serious ones. I appreciate that you read them.

    I don’t always agree with your opinions. I respect your right to have a different opinion, but I also reserve the right to tell you that when you write things like that, you make me want to curl into a ball and cry, it makes me so sad that anyone could say anything so heartless.

    Somalis have problems. Like the rest of us. Who knows how God will judge our hearts in the end-of-times?

    MoMo – thanks for reading and for presenting another side of the problem.

    Ansam – You are so right – and as one of my bloggers has pointed out, both his grandfathers were sea captains – and sometimes pirates. Kuwaiti pirates. We don’t know where desperation will take us until we are desperate. I believe I could kill to protect a child from harm, even though I am peaceful by nature. I know desperation can make us do things we would never dream of doing.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 24, 2008 | Reply

  5. Intlxpatr ;
    i am so sorry to make you feel sad like that ,

    if i said heartless things imagine the feelings and sufferings caused by the pirates to the members of the innocent families of the hijacked ships who dont know what will happen to their loved ones from one minute to the next.

    Unfortunately pop culture has glamorized pirates in movies to the point where we may accept their acts as gallant or adventurous.

    Pirates are criminals and they deserve to be dealt with in full force .

    Again I am sorry for my harsh statements , but reality is even more horrific to the hapless sailors whose fate has taken a turn for the worse .

    i hope they get out of their ordeal safely and soon .

    sincerely yours ,

    Comment by daggero | November 24, 2008 | Reply

    but, they polluted the oceans which give us a bad environment and kills US!

    Comment by Po | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  7. Po, I think you are confused . . . I think it is western countries who are dumping, and Somali politicians, not pirates, who allowed the dumping, and charged for it.

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 18, 2008 | Reply

  8. So, Daggero, where are you? I have missed your comments and your insights, even if we don’t always agree.

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 18, 2008 | Reply

  9. I am here , how come i didnt see your last comment

    Comment by daggero | May 1, 2009 | Reply

  10. LLLOOLL, Daggero, I wrote that back in DECEMBER! I don’t know why you didn’t see the comment back in DECEMBER, but I notice that you disappear for a while now and then, and then, you are back with all your wit and good humor. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 2, 2009 | Reply

  11. […] The issue with pirates – specifically Somali pirates – is more complex than you would think. […]

    Pingback by Barcelona to Abu Dhabi: A High Risk Area for Piracy « Here There and Everywhere | February 14, 2023 | Reply

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