In recent weeks, attacks by Somali pirates have risen markedly and drawn the attention of the media – particularly after the capture and then miraculous rescue of American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips. A second ship carrying donated food to Rwanda for World Vision was attacked last earlier in the month by pirates off the coast of Somalia. No one was hurt in the attack and the ship was later allowed to continue to its destination.
The Rt Rev Andrew Proud, who is currently visiting the UK, is the suffragan to the President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Rev Mouneer Anis and is based in Ethiopia.
“My understanding is that, in the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a lot of illegal fishing off that coast, and perhaps nuclear waste being dumped, and this had led to the people wanting to fight back,” he said, according to the Church Times.
“It’s got to the stage where it’s [piracy] almost an industry. They are highly organised pirates, although it does surprise me they are able to take these ships over.
“It’s a lawless region, and it’s part of wanting to have a piece of the cake. Globalisation works two ways. It’s profoundly depressing, but life is so tough for the people living there.
“After the Ethiopian army went in, people left in droves. Somalis are desperate to settle down and have some stability, but I can’t see that happening.”
The bishop said that Somalia is an extremely dangerous place to be for Christians. Last year David Mohamed, who converted to Christianity from Islam, was placed under house arrest and killed. The last Anglican church in Somalia was destroyed 30 years ago.