Ghana’s former President and African Union High Representative for Somalia, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has at a conference on combating maritime piracy condemned illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste on parts of the Somali coastline which has caused extensive damage including fish contamination and birth abnormalities to humans.
President Rawlings called on the international community to strive to trace, apprehend and prosecute those responsible for such despicable acts with the same urgency as the arrest and transfer of leading African citizens to the ICC in The Hague.
The former President said: “There is nothing more despicable than the dumping of toxic waste along the coastline of Somalia. Waging war and dealing with these pirates is completely justified but I believe we must seize the moral high ground and create goodwill amongst the people of Somalia by taking the appropriate measures to clean up their shores, tracing and arresting those responsible and prosecuting them. How powerful, how untouchable can they be if they easily perpetuate such crimes on humanity and walk free while leading citizens in Africa are hounded and sent to The Hague at will?”
President Rawlings made these comments at a conference on counter-piracy organised by the government of the United Arab Emirates and DP World in Dubai on June 27 and 28.
The former President who addressed the opening ceremony with an update on the situation in Somalia and later apanel discussion on the topic “The Humanitarian Situation in Somalia and Public-Private Sector Responses”, used both occasions to lash out at the abuse of the Somali coastline and the impunity that comes with it.
President Rawlings said it was imperative that action was taken to clean up the coastline in order to win the confidence of those whose lives have been directly affected by the dumping menace.
He called for the bridging of inequalities across the world and said a lot of hate is generated when a US soldier who shot and killed Afghan citizens is sent back his country to be tried by a special military court while others who commit similar acts are quickly transferred to international courts for trial. “The Afghans are increasingly seeing them as enemies because they do not see justice in such actions,” he said.
The huge success achieved in Somalia, President Rawlings noted, has been largely due to the support of major international partners – IGAD, the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and a host of other countries and institutions who have contributed both in monetary and logistical terms towards pushing a common agenda of seeking a lasting solution to the Somalia problem.
The African Union High Representative also commended “the government and people of Turkey for the extraordinary show of support through monetary, logistical and investment in educational and medical infrastructure in Somalia.
Turkey deserves mention because it has exceptional belief in a positive future for Somalia. When the humanitarian issue deteriorated in 2011, the Turkish Prime Minister disregarded the insecurity in Somalia at the time and visited the country with a huge delegation including his wife, children and senior politicians to show solidarity and donate cash and relief items. Turkey donated not less than $365 million in cash and kind towards alleviating the dire humanitarian crises.