Piracy off the Horn of Africa [September 28, 2009]   [open pdf - 686KB]

"Pirate attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought new U.S. and international attention to the long-standing problem of piracy in the region. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded 111 attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa in 2008, almost double the number in 2007. As of September 14, 2009, the U.S. State Department reported 156 attacks had occurred in those waters since January 2009, with 33 successful hijackings. Attacks remain concentrated in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and the northern coast of Somalia and along Somalia's eastern coastline. However, in July 2009, the United Nations Secretary General warned that 'as a result of the military presence in the region, pirates have employed more daring operational tactics, operating further seawards, towards the Seychelles, and using more sophisticated weaponry.' [...]. Some observers also have alleged that the absence of coastal security authorities in Somalia has allowed illegal international fishing and maritime dumping to occur in Somali waters, which in turn has undermined the economic prospects of some Somalis and may be providing economic or political motivation to some groups engaged in piracy. [...].The Obama Administration has outlined its policy response to the threat of piracy and pledged to continue working through interagency and multilateral coordination and enforcement mechanisms established during the Bush Administration. Most experts believe that the reestablishment of government authority in Somalia is the only guarantee that piracy will not persist or reemerge as a threat."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40528
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