Destroying Boats is Not the Answer for Libya’s Refugees and Migrants

Today I spoke with Meghna Chakrabarti of NPR and WBUR’s “Here and Now” on why European proposals to destroy boats won’t help refugees and migrants who are escaping ‪#‎Libya‬:

Listen:  http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/05/11/military-crackdown-migrant-traffickers

 

More on those pirates…

The Nation magazine (U.S.) has an interesting short read by Richard Pollak on the market incentives for just letting ocean piracy happen.  As it turns out, it is far cheaper for shipping companies to do nothing than to protect their crews:

No reliable statistics measure the annual cost of piracy, but one likely high estimate of $16 billion represents only .001 percent of the more than $14 trillion in world trade that moved by ship last year…

…for years Maersk and most other shipping firms, large and small, have refused to spend the money it would take to make each vessel more secure. Few, for example, have invested in Secure-Ship, an electrified wire fence that delivers a 9,000-volt nonlethal shock to anyone attempting to climb aboard.

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Pirates, Propaganda, and CNN

-“Heroes and villians” — it is standard rhetorical fare for elected officials, media outlets, and the general public.  We all want our uplifting stories of freedom, set against the backdrop of immorality and danger.

The story of the Somali pirates is no exception.  This is not to say many of the pirates are in fact anything other than bandits.  When someone points a gun at someone else and take them hostage, the range of scenarios in which the gun-toter  could be considered anything but a criminal start to narrow greatly.

But the dominant narrative has obscured other realities on the ground.  Somalis are apparently quite angry at European ships, and with good reason.  In a widely circulated essay on The Huffington Post, Independent (UK) newspaper journalist Johann Hari spells out the gruesome details:

In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed … As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken…People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Continue reading