This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
Kenya wants to organize a major international
conference to discuss how to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. The
conference may also deal with ways to rescue Somalia from seventeen years of
civil war. More than forty percent of its people depend on food aid.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula
says the world cannot end piracy without also dealing with Somalia's political
problems. He says the piracy is partly born out of a "collective failure"
to solve the problems of Somalia. He says the lawlessness there has created a
breeding ground for the current threat.
pirates operate in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The Gulf of Aden connects
the Red Sea to the Mediterranean by way of the Suez Canal. The pirates have
fast boats, modern weapons and equipment like satellite phones and global
hijacking a week ago of an oil supertanker from off the coast of Kenya has
brought new attention to the maritime criminals. Somali pirates have attacked
more than one hundred twenty ships this year and hijacked almost forty of them.
The United Nations estimates that
pirates have received about thirty million dollars in ransom money for hijacked
ships. Kenya's foreign minister says his government believes pirate networks may
have earned as much as one hundred fifty million. There are concerns that some
of the money could go to Islamic terrorists in Somalia.
The tanker Sirius Star, at three
hundred thirty meters long, is the biggest ship ever known to have been captured
by pirates. It also happened farther south than most attacks, and farther out
at sea -- more than eight hundred kilometers from land.
ship was headed for the United States with two million barrels of oil, worth an
estimated one hundred million dollars. A Saudi Arabian company owns the tanker.
The pirates have reportedly demanded twenty-five million dollars in
negotiations to release the ship and its crew of twenty-five.
pirates generally do not steal goods or kill hostages. They are believed to be
holding seventeen ships with about three hundred crew members. Among the ships
is a Ukrainian vessel hijacked in September with a load of military weapons
The increase in piracy is raising the cost of
insuring ships. Also, oil from the Middle East and exports from East Asia could
take longer to arrive.
of the world's heaviest shipping traffic passes the Somali coast. But major
shipping companies have begun to consider new routes. One of the world's
biggest shippers, A.P. Moller Maersk, says it will avoid the Gulf of Aden. A
move away from the Suez Canal could hurt Egypt's economy.
American and other foreign navy ships
are now watching for pirates. This week the Indian Navy destroyed a heavily
armed "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden. But the area to protect covers
more than one hundred sixty million square kilometers.
that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve
Update: Indian Navy Insists Destroyed Ship in Gulf of Aden Was Controlled by Pirates