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Piracy could spread to Mozambique

Durban -

A new breed of pirate could emerge in northern Mozambique to exploit the gas and oil industry that is about to boom there, unless the region addresses the problem.

A Somali pirate is seen on a beach in the town of Hobyo. File picture: Roberto Schmidt. Credit: AFP

Rear-Admiral Robert “Rusty” Higgs and Joao Paulo Coelho, a professor at the Aquino de Braganca Centre for Social Studies in Maputo, issued the warning at a maritime security seminar in Pretoria on Friday.

Coelho said that life in Mozambique’s quiet Cabo Delgado province, on the border with Tanzania, was increasingly being disrupted by refugee flows, mostly from Somalia, and human trafficking from eastern and central Africa.

The Somalis were either trying to reach South Africa or staying in Mozambique to become involved in clandestine mining and petty trade. Some were sent to refugee camps. Many were arriving by dhow, using ancient trade routes from the north.

Poverty and food insecurity were rising and so was “the ghost of Islamic fundamentalism”, Coelho said. This raised the question of whether piracy could evolve in the area.

The combination of the local population becoming marginalised and the culture of sailing in dhows could engender piracy, he said. - Independent Foreign Service

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