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What are the main causes of piracy?

PiratMaritPrisonsCouv@UNODC1509(B2) A survey, carried out among 66 Somali pirates who are in prisons in Somaliland, Puntland and the Seychelles, has just been published. This is one of the first studies carried out in this way which allows us to better understand the sources of Somali piracy and the means of deterrence.

The economic situation causes piracy

Produced by UNODC in collaboration with the NGO Beyond the piracy (OBP), she designates poverty as one of the main reasons for taking action. Poor economic conditions are in fact cited as a main reason for taking action and engaging in piracy. “ I had no money left, so I decided to join the pirates in order to get food » quotes one of them. “ My family is poor, that's why I join the pirates says another.

Illegal fishing in their area is another often-cited rational reason for piracy. The " illegal fishermen led us to become pirates » remarked a prisoner. A significant number of prisoners thus reject the term “pirates” or “piracy”. They consider themselves fishermen.

The action of international navies as a dissuasive factor

The action of international navies, more than any other activity in the fight against piracy, is the main means of deterrence. The presence of armed guards on board ships was also often mentioned, with the fear of being shot.

Prisoners say they are very impacted by prison, and express a strong desire to avoid returning there. For those who know someone who has left piracy, family or community pressure is often cited as a factor in giving up.


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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).