Somalia: Pirates turned peacemakers

Opening of the course in Puntland.
(Photo: NCA)

Sources: SOCDA and

Fifty “repentant pirates” were trained in building, carpentry and other working skills in the northeastern Somali region of Puntland, one of the more stables of this troubled country, which administration is being supported by the organisation Norwegian Church AID (NCA). The former criminals spent three months in those courses, implemented by the NCA and the local Ministry of Health.

The weakness of the state authority in Somalia caused an upsurge of piracy the Gulf of Aden. There are 260 pirates in Puntland prisons, according to the official version. 

On the other hand, reports that Puntland’s Vice Presidentm, Abdi-samad Ali Shire launched last Wednesday a multi-million project to help individuals who renounced to the piracy and want to reform their lives for better.

The project, a joint collaboration between NCA and Puntland Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs and Rehabilitation is to help give skill training and capacity building to the youth who have abandoned the risky piracy business.

This is the report published by The Monthly Watch, newsletter published by Somali Organizations for Community Development Activities (SOCDA), national focal point of Social Watch in Somalia.

Pirates turned peacemakers in Puntland 

Due to the lack of a strong central government which can provide an effective maritime protection force, Somali waters have recently been the stage for many attacks of piracy. These modern day pirates have captured many ships, including foreign ships fishing illegally in Somali waters and private yachts and made millions by ransoming them.

There has been a correspondingly large effort to get rid of the self-styled Somali sea guards, mounted by war ships from many countries. This has been going on for many years, but a change of tactic is now bringing the pirates to shore and providing them with technical training. 

Fifty of the so-called “repentant pirates” have just graduated in Garowe, Puntland, after being given training which has helped them to rebuild their lives. The young men, who are from all over Puntland, have made a decision to stop their piratical behavior and have repented. The message was put out by religious leaders and elders through the mosques and public radio broadcasting.

The ex-pirates came to Garowe, where they spent three months training in various technical skills, such as building and carpentry. The project was implemented by the NCA and the Ministry of Health.

The closing ceremony took place in the technical school at which the repentant young men were awarded certificates. It was attended by army offices, representatives of civil society groups, religious leaders and community elders.

Speeches were made by representatives of both the NCA and the health ministry in which the young men were advised to make the most of the chance they had been given, and not to return to their seafaring ways.

The program for repentant pirates is gradually growing in number, with as many as one hundred a fifty having passed through the program after three sessions.

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