Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Somali pirate threats to NGOs?

Only humanitarian organizations that use cargo ships in the Indian Ocean have had to worry about the threat of Somali pirates. That may be changing with the recent hijacking of a commercial aircraft in the Puntland region. According to a Voice of America news article, members of a pirate gang commandeered the plane, in hopes of holding it and two German journalists for ransom. The incident was peacefully resolved by security forces, but it begs the question of whether increased naval pressure in the Gulf of Aden is forcing pirates to look elsewhere for revenue - such as kidnapping Westerners. (Despite stepped up patrols, it's instructive to point out that according to Lloyds List the pirate's success rate in taking ships and smaller vessels has surged to over 50%.) Readers interested in piracy are encouraged to check out a recently released book by Peter Leeson called "The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates." Leeson takes an economist's look at 18th century piracy and provides fresh perspectives on why pirates behaved and operated as they did. His historical account is fascinating and entertaining and provides insights into what is happening off the Somali coast today.

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