Piracy cash not funding Kenya projects, says MP
By LUCAS BARASA
Posted Thursday, April 30 2009
Mr Ashareh says money generated from Somalis in the diaspora.
A Somali MP has denied that money accrued from piracy off the East African coast is being used to buy property in Kenya.
Mr Ashad Awad Ashareh said, instead, the money that has seen value of property in places like Nairobi’s Eastleigh and Mombasa rise was from Somalis in the diaspora.
The MP told the Nation that Somalis in the diaspora remitt home more than Sh70 billion annually, part of which find its way to Kenya.
“It is not true that money accrued from piracy is being used to acquire property in Kenya,” Mr Ashareh said.
According to a research by United Nations Development Programme in Somalia, there are at least one million Somalis in the diaspora who remitt more than US$1 billion annually.
The money, the UNDP says, contributes a lot to the Somali economy, livelihoods, humanitarian assistance and recovery and reconstruction efforts.
The UNDP says about one million Somalis or 14 per cent of the population are in the diaspora including Horn of Africa and Yemen, Gulf States, Western Europe, US and Canada.
It is, however, the UK that has largest number of Somalis while Malaysia and Australia are new growth areas.
Kenya hosts about 220,000 registered Somali refugees, Ethiopia (17,000), Djibouti (7,000) and South Africa (8,000).
According to a US State Department report last year, about $100 million (about Sh8 billion) is laundered through Kenya every year from Somalia.
Last month, the Saturday Nation reported that the North Eastern provincial administration had launched investigations into the possibility that the $150 million (about Sh12 billion) Somali pirates reaped in the high seas last year may have found its way into the area, pushing up property values.
Property values in places like Eastleigh in Nairobi and Mombasa have also gone up tremendously causing fears that the pirates’ money could be finding its way into the country.
Mr Ashareh accused some foreign countries of illegally fishing in Somali waters and dumping toxic waste there.
It is a move by some Somalis to try and defend their territory from illegal fishing and dumping that resulted to piracy, he said.
The MP said piracy could only end if international community helped Somalia return to peace and stability so that it can establish a strong law enforcement agency.
“We need a strong navy to man our waters,” he said.
Tens of ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates in the recent past and only released after ransoms are paid.