NAIROBI, January 14 – Puntland’s newly-elected president said Wednesday his semi-autonomous region of Somalia would actively combat piracy but it needed international support to provide its youth with alternative jobs.,
"My government will fight piracy to the best of its ability. We need to attain credibility as a hub of peace in Somalia," Abdurahman Mohamed Farole said in a telephone interview with AFP.
"I am calling on the world to support us through development programmes that could minimise unemployment in Puntland, so that young boys will not fall into the hands of pirates," he said.
Somali pirates raked in an estimated 150 million dollars in ransom money in 2008, attacking more than 130 ships and turning one of the planet’s busiest maritime routes into the world’s most dangerous waters.
The income generated by piracy surpasses the budget of Puntland, off the coastline of which most attacks have occurred.
Out of the 15 ships currently held by pirates in the region, 13 were attacked by sea-borne gangs operating from Puntland.
"Somalia should not only been seen in the context of piracy by the international community, but should be addressed as a forgotten failed nation which needs help," Farole said.
Farole last week comfortably won a presidential vote, which saw the ouster of incumbent Adde Musa Hirsi, whose administration was widely perceived as corrupt and an obstacle to effective anti-piracy efforts.
Puntland’s security apparatus was depleted by the Ethiopia-backed war effort led by Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed against radical Islamists in central and southern Somalia and security forces remained unpaid for several months.
Yusuf was Puntland’s founding president in 1998 and later became Somalia’s president, until his resignation late last month.