Source: XINHUA | 2012-2-23 | ONLINE EDITION
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said here on Wednesday that pirates working around the Horn of Africa are gaining more and more funds from their illegal activities.
Fedotov's statement came as he briefed the UN Security Council on piracy off the coast of Somalia.
"Based on our data, in 2011, pirates received about 170 million (U.S.) dollars in ransoms for hijacked vessels and crews," he said. "The figure has risen since 2010 when ransoms paid amounted to over 110 million dollars."
Fedotov said that money from piracy is entering the legal financial system at an "increasing rate."
"The laundering of piracy proceeds are causing steep price rises in the Horn of Africa and the surrounding area," he said. " The money is also being reinvested into criminal activities that are not limited to piracy. Drugs, weapons and alcohol smuggling, as well as human trafficking, also benefit from the proceeds of piracy."
Although Fedotov said that UNODC is unaware of any ideological link between Al-Shabaab, a militant group said to be associated with Al-Qaeda, and the pirates of the Somali coast, he stated that "there is strong evidence of cooperation in furtherance of the two groups' aims."
"Therefore, piracy is creating a clear threat to the stability of the region," he said.
Fedotov said that UNODC is continuing its work to combat the problem of piracy. Actions taken include working with countries in the region to prosecute piracy, and training police, prosecutors, judges, and prison personnel in Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius, and parts of Somalia. Also, UNODC has refurbished prisons and built courtrooms in East Africa.
"The assistance provided is strengthening the overall criminal justice system in these countries and helping it to become fair, efficient and consistent with human rights standards," noted Fedotov.
He added that the fight against piracy requires support from the larger international community.
"To make our efforts more effective, we need broader international support beyond this region," he said. "This is the most efficient way to sever the arteries that sustain piracy."