Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Piracy Threatens Aid Effort in Somalia

The number of Somalians who seek food aid from the U.N. has risen by 75 percent since 2007 to 3.25 million, equivalent to 40 percent of the population. The warring Ethiopian army and Islamist militants have upset the agriculture and put many out of their homes.

To add to the turbulence, pirates have been intercepting the relief vessels carrying food that the U.N. has been sending.

The European Union responded by sending military escorts to protect the relief vessels. So far no ship has been attacked while under escort.

When escorts are not available, small ships are used to bring in food because they are targeted less by the pirates. The pirates usually look for the larger ships which they can hold for up to $1 million in ransom.

The smaller ships can only bring so much food, and the decline in the use of large vessels has impacted the amount of food that reaches Somalia.

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