Somalia: Nuclear toxic waste dumping and foreign fishing piracy


Somalia is an east African country bounded to the north by the Gulf of Aden, to the south and east by Kenya, to the west by Ethiopia and to the northwest by Djibouti and has a population of 9.8 million. It is a war racked country which had no stable government since the claps of the late overthrown Mohamed Siad Barre in 1992.

The 2004 tsunami which hit northern Somalia and took the lives of 300 people with thousands of homes, is believed to have also stirred up tonnes of  leaking barrels  of nuclear and toxic waste on the beaches around North Hobyo , South Mudug and Warsheik (North of Benadir) which were illegally dumped by European firms (United Nations Environment Programme report).

The UN assessment mission has recently visited Somali to examine these allegations and reported that a number of people from the northeast towns of Hobbio and Banadir on the Indian Ocean were suffering from illnesses consistent with radiation sickness, likewise respiratory infections, mouth ulcer and bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages and unusual skin infections, widespread cancers and severe birth defects.

It is believed that many European firms used the Somali coast in 1992 as a dumping ground but because of the instability and civil war in the country a full assessments of the extent of the problem could have been conducted. The Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana published in 1997 articles covering the extent of illegal dumping and stated that it started in the late 1980 and also exposed a swiss firm, Achair partners and an Italian waste broker, Progresso.

As the country slipped into civil war, many warlord’s which were former ministers in the last government ( Siad barre’s), received large sums of money and Weapons from Swiss and Italian companies for access to their respective fiefdoms. ‘Many of the ships, having brought weapons or waste, then became trawlers, and left Somali waters with holds full of tuna for onward sale ’. It is believed that materials such as radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and many other different toxic wastes were dumped. In 1994 an italian journalist Ilaria Alpi e Miran Hrovatin with her camera man Miran Hrovatin who were investigating the toxic waste was killed. She believed that the Italian Army and other institutions were involved.  

Daryeel Bulsho Guud which is a Somali multi-clan Ngo did a field work and identified 15 containers of confirmed nuclear and chemical waste in eight arears. A former UN Special Representative for somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah confirmed while he was in office that dumping was still continuing.

Another problem relating to the invasion of the Somali coast is the foreign fishing piracy. As Mohamed Abshir Waldo interviewed by democracy now  puts it, there are two types of piracy in Somali, one you have consistently been bombarded through media, the Somali piracy which actually requires to be redefined with maybe different terminology and the untold piracy formally known as the illegal foreign fishing piracy. Fishing is the only means of income for many Somalis along the coastline. Because of the mass fishing and water pollution the number of fishes have drastically decline, meaning less fish and more hunger for the fishing communities. The fishermen complained a number of times to the United Nations and the European Union but no steps were taken to address these issues. In 2006 alone 700 foreign companies were fishing o 3,300 kilometres along the Somali coastline. In act of desperation the fishermen took their arms to protect their fishing rights and food sources. More fishing companies are however now joining the feast, protected this time by their country’s navies and warships. Mohamed Abshir Waldo said that all southern European countries, likeweise UK, Italy, Spain, some Scandinavian countries,  Russia, Taiwan, Korea, China, Iran and many more are now there

There is a believed that the only solution to this suffering is that if all countries involved could put an end  the dumping, clean up waste sites and secure the fishing communities fishing rights. Unless there is an  international body that take actions rather than words, unless governments start to understand that stealing and harming would do more harm than good, unless individuals from these countries start reflecting the hidden side of the story, things will unfortunately be the same, injustice and more injustice . 





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