Will the UN bell the cat?
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.
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”.