The annual report released today by the leading global source of critical information and insight, IHS, has identified Somalia as one of the top ten risk hot spots in the Middle East for 2016.
This news comes after a sustained period over the past 3 years of a reduced threat level, due to maritime security operations and private maritime security companies providing an effective deterrent to dormant pirate groups. Following the success of the security measures in the region, commercial shipping companies now doubt the existence of any threat and have even stopped utilising armed guard services when transiting the high risk area.
However, in 2016 there will be changes to the current onshore and maritime security situation in Somalia, which will leave the waters vulnerable. Couple this with some Somalian political leaders expected to enable pirate activities to resurface due to the strained economic situation in Somalia, and it is very likely that we will see a severe increase in pirate activity.
The onshore and maritime security environment that has contributed to a reduction in Somali-based piracy since 2012 is changing, with indicators of an increasing risk of piracy in 2016. The pirates that thrived in Somalia between 2005 and 2012 were reliant on the support of regional political leaders who were willing to provide safe havens for hijacked ships to be stored during lengthy ransom negotiations. The two conditions that led regional politicians to provide that support, namely a lack of alternative economic opportunities and a threat to their control of their territory, are currently being recreated in the Galmudug region of central Somalia.
About 60 percent of commercial shipping travelling through this historic piracy zone no longer carry privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on-board due to the costs involved and perception that piracy is not a significant risk. This means that Somali pirates, who still have the technical capabilities, manpower, weaponry and financing networks to organise deep-water hijacks, may soon regain the secure ship-storage locations required to resume operations.
– IHS Inc., press.ihs.com