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DUMPING TOXIC WASTES ON OUR COASTS

TALKING POINT
BY M.M. AFRAH©

Mafia syndicates in the payroll of giant industries under a notorious godfather and a local warlord are making millions of dollars by dumping toxic wastes on our coastal regions and territorial waters, while United Nations officials responsible for the protection of the environment and the international law of the sea, are dragging their feet. Is this a cover up, or the proverbial three monkeys-see no evil, say no evil and hear no evil? I mean those who never open their mouth on this grave matter, never lift a finger against the Mafia syndicates and their godfathers, even after they knew their names and nationalities. Not even when they operate this apocalyptic business openly under their very nose.

Hey, what the hell is going on out there?

Toxic wastes are the most harmful form of pollution. The effect on humans from contaminated seafood includes birth defects and premature death. The result made our sea life synonymous with environmental disaster, pressing new problem in chaotic Somalia. Again it baffles me and some of my colleagues in the media why action were not taken against these thugs, even after their names were known, thanks to the local human rights organizations. It is no longer secret that some of these criminals include one of the notorious warlords who have been bankrolling at the expense of our environment during the last decade.

This warlord does not want to understand that a war to exterminate what is left of a country once called the Somali Republic is on the rampage. As he is blinded by the myopia of making a quick money, he does not realize or do not want to realize that the country is facing a war of extermination worse than the civil/clan wars-a war that aims the country to disappear from the face of the earth. This warlord (the appropriate prefix is The Vulture) reminds me of the German-Jewish bankers and industrialists who in the 1930s, hoping to save themselves, lent Hitler money, instead of organizing insurgents against the Nazis with that money to carry out hit and run operations. Few years later, these same Jewish bankers and industrialists ended in Hitler's crematory ovens.

Hiroshima, Pearl Harbour, the holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, the Twin Towers in New York City, the Iraq quagmire and Darfur would look like a picnic compared to what is in store for the long suffering people of Somalia.

Independent investigators discovered that pollution in the Somali coast is a major problem that is affecting the coastal areas and the rest of the country, too. It affects ocean organisms and directly affects human health and resources. Somali fishermen told the investigators that they are witnessing the toxic wastes in Somalia's territorial waters are killing the fish population and many plants in the ocean, and have huge impact on the health of the inhabitants. They had witnessed deformed babies and premature deaths in the coastal regions, which is fast spreading to the hinterland-and to the entire country. They told the investigators that no amount of sweet talk and diplomacy could save Somalia. It is not as simple as that, they said.

Meanwhile, the vultures, as we read some times during the last 3-4 months, have problems of their own. In sorting out this problem, new signals have been emerging from Mogadishu. They are wasting a lot of time over trivialities, circumventing the crucial problem-that of disarming their own militia and removing all road barricades without exception. Now it emerged that the militia of one of the warlords refused to disarm and dismantle their roadblocks from the main arteries of the capital. Because of these inequities, donor countries are disinclined to support the disarmament project as they are doing in Somaliland and Puntland. It is worth mentioning here that Osman Atto has taken the long awaited step to remove his militia from the Afgoi/Mogadishu road during the week, but the lingering question is: Would he stay on course and stick to his guns? I hope so.

One political analyst was quoted as saying that some of the warlords are not serious in the business of disarming their militia. "We are dealing with the struggle for power and media hype between rival gangs," he said. Of course, the original intention to disarm the militia and dismantle the string of barricades was noble, but the great impression created is an exercise knocked together in ad hoc manner by certain individual warlords and their paymasters intent on reinsuring themselves, never to commit themselves finally to a single course, but forever contriving to hedge and lay off. Sixth sense (that's if you believe in telepathy) would tell you that whatever they say or do would turn out to be their typical baloney and hogwash. It is a world of incurable hate and mistrust. Simple every day disputes escalate into bloodshed because of the presence guns.

We in this website have said before and are saying it again, and again that the country requires a broad effort to try to get people to give up their stash of weapons, so that the gun culture would not effect next generation, but the lingering question is: "If they surrender their cache of weapons who will guarantee their safety? Many honest citizens kept their guns close to their hearts for no other reason than to defend their family from the marauding Mooryaan. The simple reason is that they could not afford hiring private army and that there is no central government to protect them. It is as simple as that.

ILLEGAL FISHING

Going back to the toxic wastes that are being dumped on Somalia's coastal regions, it is obvious that the Mafia syndicates and their godfathers have been taking advantage of the chaotic situation in Somalia and the cash-starved warlords. As a result, the country's territorial waters, the longest in Africa, became free for all. In addition to toxic wastes, fishing trawlers from a number of countries vacuum clean the ocean floors with impunity, scot-free.

One irony is that whenever young militias try to apprehend a foreign trawler for illegally fishing within the 200-miles of Somalia's territorial waters, the foreign media cook words such as "pirates of the high seas." A recent case in point is a Korean cargo ship, registered in Panama, and was apprehended as the seamen, mostly Africans, were discharging dozens of barrels containing toxic wastes off Adale coast. This is just a tip of the iceberg from the coastal area, and there were many more during the last decade or so. It is estimated that in Puntland alone, several hundreds factory trawlers illegally fish off the ocean floors of Bossaso, Hafun, and Las Qorey as there has been steady increase in demand for the red lobsters and other seafood in affluent societies.

I could go on and on with this frightening story, but I feel like being stonewalled by those who were supposed to take action against those responsible for these monstrous crimes. For people like me who have seen and reported too many horror stories and got used to them at certain points, this particular one gives me sleepless nights.

One has the right to ask this legitimate question: "Where are the officials from the United Nations responsible for the protection of the environment? Are they waiting for manna or karma to fall from the sky to help them do their job?

Mr. Kofi Annan, where art thou, brother?

By M.M. Afrah©2005
Email: afrah95@hotmail.com


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