Will the UN bell the cat?

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS - By P Justin Antony

To­day marks UN Day. Founded in 1945 with 193 mem­bers, this global or­ga­ni­za­tion’s peace­mak­ing ini­tia­tives are highly praise wor­thy. The 2001 No­bel Peace Prize went to the UN and its for­mer Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Kofi An­nan stands tes­ti­mony to this. But there is a sec­tion of peo­ple, es­pe­cially mi­nor­ity fisher folk, whose pre­cious lives have been swal­lowed. Their cry is yet to be heard by the UN.

Th­ese an­glers, well-known for deep-sea fish­ing, suf­fer a lot in mid-seas. So­lu­tions are not sought for the nu­mer­ous prob­lems caused by pi­rates. It is an in­tense shock to learn about the killings of three Gulf-based fish­er­men by pi­rates in a lit­tle over a year. Thomas Cle­tus from Bahrain was killed in May 2014; Mathivalan from Saudi Ara­bia was killed in May 2015, while Antony Arul Anish from Qatar was killed in Aug 2015. He was the only bread­win­ner for his elderly par­ents and two young un­mar­ried sis­ters. Who can con­sole th­ese three fam­i­lies?

Th­ese in­ci­dents are only the tip of the ice­berg. At times, pi­rates carry weapons and loot fish catches from boats. Some­times they force a fish­ing boat at gun­point to sail to the shore and de­mand cash as ran­som. How­ever, when pi­rates see that a boat has many men and they can’t pos­si­bly over­power it, they shoot at ran­dom.

Kid­nap­ping at mid-sea has be­come an in­ter­na­tional men­ace and a threat worldwide. Just for ran­som, sev­eral in­no­cents are kid­napped and kept in cus­tody for sev­eral weeks and months. While we are not able to tol­er­ate the ab­sence of our child for even a sin­gle hour, the cry of the dear ones of those kid­napped is un­der­stand­able.

Re­cently, 26 Asian sailors from China, Philip­pines, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Viet­nam and Tai­wan held by Somali pi­rates since Fe­bru­ary 2012 were freed. It was learnt from the lo­cal mayor Hirsi Yusuf Barre that the crew is in Galkayo and will be flown to Nairobi, the Kenyan cap­i­tal. The crew did not say if ran­som was paid and he added that ship’s cap­tain was killed in the hi­jack­ing, while two oth­ers died from ill­ness dur­ing their cap­tiv­ity, one of the long­est among hostages seized by pi­rates in the Horn of Africa na­tion.

The sailors were held in Daba­gala near the vil­lage of Harartheere, some 400 km north­east of the cap­i­tal Mo­gadishu, a ham­let that was known as So­ma­lia’s main pi­rate base at the height of the cri­sis. The crim­i­nal vi­o­lence, act of rob­bery and kid­nap­ping peo­ple from com­mer­cial ves­sels has to be put to an end by this in­ter­na­tional body.

Pleas

INFIDET (In­ter­na­tional Fish­er­men Devel­op­ment Trust) has pleaded to the UN, fol­lowed by sev­eral re­minders, to help stop pi­rate at­tacks on fish­er­men by set­ting up a mar­itime force. As the only ef­fec­tive solution to the prob­lem, a unit like the UN peace­keep­ing force should be formed by the UN and sent wher­ever nec­es­sary in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters for pa­trolling. The pi­rates should be pun­ished se­verely, so that the acts of kid­nap­ping will be ini­tially re­duced and stopped in the long run.

When the UN ob­serves the theme of this year’s con­cert as “Free­dom First”, let us all hope for a pleas­ant sit­u­a­tion for th­ese an­glers to con­tinue their pro­fes­sion with ut­most free­dom. The mi­nor­ity fisher folk pray that their un­con­trol­lably flow­ing tears are put to an end by tack­ling the pi­rates. Who other than the mighty UN, that adopts global coun­tert­er­ror­ism strate­gies, can bell th­ese pi­rates?

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in­clud­ing the mi­nor­ity fisher folk re­mem­bers with grat­i­tude what UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban ki Moon said: “Hu­man­ity has en­tered the era of sus­tain­abil­ity with a global com­mit­ment to ful­fill the great prom­ise of the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment. In the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 71st year, we have 17 goals to pro­pel us to­wards a bet­ter fu­ture for all on a healthy planet”.

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