Indiana Daily Student

Pirate-plagued Somalia trains 500 navy recruits

Somalia took a step toward policing its own shores with the graduation of its first 500 naval recruits Tuesday.

Officials hope the men will form the backbone of the country’s first naval force for nearly two decades, but said they need international funding to make it a viable force.

Somalia currently relies on international warships to police its lawless shores, where the U.N.-backed government is fighting Islamist insurgents and clan-based militias fight each other.

The chaos provides a perfect refuge for pirates who prey on vessels passing between Asia and Europe – one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Japan, America, Germany, China, Canada and other nations have sent warships to the Gulf of Aden, but there are not enough of them to cover the danger zone. T

he pirates have expanded their operations hundreds of miles offshore in the Indian Ocean. Last year pirates captured over 100 ships, and attacks have increased this year.

Foreign navies are reluctant to tackle the pirates on land for fear of getting sucked into the bloodbath of Somalia’s 18-year-old civil war.

Somalia’s new naval commander, Admiral Farah Ahmed, said the new batch of recruits who graduated Tuesday are the first tranche of a new force responsible for tackling piracy.

Each man will receive $175 a month, and the force will be armed with tanks, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.

He said the navy will set up bases in the ports of Bosasso, Berbera and Kismayo, and its headquarters in the capital of Mogadishu. The scheme is currently funded by the

Somali government, but Ahmed said members of the international community have also pledged funds.

“We are hopeful that in future we will get warships so we can chase the pirates out of our coast,” he said, adding he eventually hoped to have 5,000 sailors under his command.

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