A decade ago, Somali pirates were frequently in the headlines for hijacking boats and holding their crews for ransom. The epicentre of the piracy crisis was Somalia’s northeastern state of Puntland. Local fishermen were angry at trawlers from around the world scouring the plentiful waters of the Horn of Africa. (…) A decade after the pirates hit the big time, our reporters Duncan Woodside and Thaïs Brouck went back to Puntland to find out what life is like there now. The pirates have nearly all been forced into retirement, their loot long since squandered. Nevertheless, our reporters found that illegal, unregulated and underreported fishing remains a big problem, despite a massive international naval presence off the coast of Somalia and the operations of Puntland’s own well-funded coastguards.
Meanwhile, the government’s authority is undermined by Al Shabaab (“The Youth” in Arabic), Islamist militants allied with Al-Qaeda, who have found sanctuary in Puntland and have been attempting to tap into discontent, amid pressure from an international military coalition in southern Somalia. To complicate the picture even further, the Islamic State group is rearing its head in the region.