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U.N.: Ransoms to pirates top $30M so far

Sept. 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM   |   Comments

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Ransoms paid to pirates off the Horn of Africa so far in 2012 are estimated between $25 million and $30 million, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes said.

In a report issued on World Maritime Day, the office said it was important to tackle the piracy problem on land to help prevent youth from becoming pirates, the U.N. agency said Thursday in a release.

"Piracy is also an issue of social and economic development as well as the rule of law and security. This means adding [the agency's] expertise on drugs and crime and terrorism to the overall promotion of democratic development of countries in the region," said Yury Fedotov, U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes executive director. "We have to raise awareness of the dangers, while also offering alternative lifestyles for the young men enticed into going to sea."

The office has been implementing an advocacy program reaching out to Somali youth, Fedotov said. The program works with community leaders, politicians, religious leaders and has an advertising campaign to warn young people of the dangers of piracy.

The agency also focuses on developing fair and efficient trials for pirates and helping law enforcement and financial intelligence operations prevent piracy ransoms from being laundered, Fedotov said.

"We must ensure fair and efficient trials in line with international human rights standards, while also providing assistance for the imprisonment of pirates within the region," Fedotov said. "However, our work cannot stop there. Pirates must be denied access to their profits. Young people in the region also need to be offered alternatives to a dangerous life at sea. The logic is simple: no pirates, no piracy."

The office said $170 million was paid in ransoms in 2011.

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