Thursday

19th Apr 2018

Opinion

EU firms should stop toxic dumping off Somalia

The European Union's defence ministers launched on 10 November 2008 an anti-piracy mission called "Atalanta" off the coast of Somalia.

The bloc claims that the goal of the enterprise is "to escort the World Food Programme's humanitarian convoys to Somalia and to contribute to the improvement of maritime security off the Somali coast as part of the European Union's overall action to stabilise Somalia."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

More recently, the EU pushed for a UN Security Council resolution that was adopted on 2 December to allow member states to fight pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The French UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert expressed his satisfaction with the resolution because: "Piracy is killing. Every day more than three million Somali people are depending on food aid, on emergency relief - which comes, 95 percent of it - by sea."

In a time when Somalia is experiencing one of its most serious humanitarian crises ever, one would think that the unexpected determination and speed of the EU in deploying military muscle in the region should be welcomed by the Somali people.

But unfortunately, Atalanta looks like another disappointing duplicity toward the war-torn nation. Doubts hang over whether the EU is genuinely keen to help the people of Somalia in their desperate search for peace and stability.

Securing supply of oil

Two factors undermine the credibility of the EU's operation in Somalia. Firstly, the main goal of the mission seems to be to secure the supply of goods and oil to the rich countries in the West.

In the past, the European Union resolutely rejected repeated calls from the African Union and Somalia's neighbours to deploy peace-keeping forces in the country.

The rise of piracy on Somalia's waters has suddenly ignited a spark in the corridors of EU decision makers, after the hijacking of a large Saudi oil tanker reminded the western world of the vulnerability of maritime trade at a time of financial crisis.

The organisation Refugees International (RI) criticised, recently, this global hypocrisy toward Somalia. The RI stated that "the speed and resolve with which piracy has been addressed by the UN Security Council underlines Somali sentiment that economic interests trump humanitarian concerns."

Secondly, the EU's inability or unwillingness to stop and punish the European-owned companies that have for many years been dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast seriously undermines the ethical claims of the new EU endeavour.

Toxic waste

In 1996, when I was in the northern autonomous region, Puntland, in Somalia, there was already a widespread fear that foreign ships were taking advantage of the collapse of the Somalian state by using the nation's waters as a refuse dump.

When the tsunami of 2004 hit the country, the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that many waste containers washed up on the the coast of Puntland. It is now widely understood that European companies are systematically dumping toxic waste in these waters.

The UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has in the past few months repeatedly sounded the alarm about illegal fishing and toxic dumping off Somalia by European firms.

Mr Abdullah said that his organisation has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping the waste - including nuclear waste, - in this region.

The European Union has responded to these allegations with silence.

At a press conference on 2 December, following the UN Security Council resolution on Somalia, a reporter from Inner City Press asked Ambassador Ripert of France, which holds the EU's presidency, about how the waste issue will be dealt with.

The ambassador answered: "I have no comment on the issue."

There is now a fear that, if the EU clears Somali waters of pirates, European waste-dumping firms will inherit a safe haven to exercise their criminal and immoral activities.

If Europe wants to help the unfortunate people of Somalia, the most responsible and credible way to start would be stop and punish those companies.

In the long term, the union should also develop a comprehensive plan for the restoration of peace and stability in the country.

The Somali born author is a chemist at Linkoping University Hospital, Sweden and can be contacted at abdimajid@passagen.se

EU begins anti-piracy mission off Somali coast

The EU was to launch its first-ever naval mission - against pirates off the coast of Somalia on Monday, with foreign ministers set to decide on robust rules of engagement of the flotilla.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

EU should ensure sustainable Cohesion Policy

As the EU Council kicks off negotiations over the post-2020 budget, ministers have have an opportunity to create a framework that will unlock innovative financing and scale up the citizen-led clean energy transformation

How to reset EU-Burma relations

Europe should go back to its pre-2012 policy, wipe away aid and trade benefits, and tie democratic efforts to the reinstatement of benefits.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  2. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  3. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  4. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  5. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  6. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  7. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  8. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  9. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  11. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  12. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership