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Pirates ‘want their share of globalisation dividend’

by
23 April 2009

by Ed Beavan

The Rt Revd Andrew Proud with the Revd Isaac Pur, in Gambella, Ethiopia

The Rt Revd Andrew Proud with the Revd Isaac Pur, in Gambella, Ethiopia

PIRACY is “almost an industry” in the Horn of Africa and offers a way for Somalis to “fight back” against past injustices caused by global­isa­tion, the Bishop in the Horn of Africa, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, said this week.

Bishop Proud, the first Bishop of the region which contains Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland, is currently back in the UK for a three-month furlough.

He was speaking in the week when a ship carrying relief supplies for Rwanda was attacked off the coast of Somalia. World Vision reported that the ship had been able to reach its destination with its cargo of food-aid intact. This was the second attack in a month on a ship carrying relief supplies.

Bishop Proud was appointed suffragan to the President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the most Revd Mouneer Anis, two years ago, and is based in Ethiopia. He is also a mission companion for USPG.

Bishop Proud said the escalation in attacks was “profoundly depres­sing. My understanding is that, in the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a lot of illegal fishing off that coast, and perhaps nuclear waste being dumped, and this had led to the people wanting to fight back.

“It’s got to the stage where it’s almost an industry. They are highly organised pirates, although it does surprise me they are able to take these ships over.

“It’s a lawless region, and it’s part of wanting to have a piece of the cake. Globalisation works two ways. It’s profoundly depressing, but life is so tough for the people living there.

“After the Ethiopian army went in, people left in droves. Somalis are desperate to settle down and have some stability, but I can’t see that happening.”

Bishop Proud has never visited Somalia, and says that it is very dangerous for Christians there. He tells of the case of David Mohamed, a convert from Islam who was placed under house arrest and killed last year. There is no Anglican church in Somalia. Christ Church, in Moga­dishu, was destroyed 30 years ago.

Bishop Proud has, however, visited the autonomous region of Somaliland, which is more stable than Somalia, and he habours hopes that the church in the capital, Har­geisa, can be rebuilt one day. During his trip, he baptised five Christians. “We met in the dark and prayed and sang in a whisper.”

He and his wife Janice live in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, but much of his work is in the Gambella region of the country, where the num­ber of churches has increased from 16 to 47 in the past seven years.

There are about 6000 Anglicans in Ethiopia, and Bishop Proud is working to put in structures for theological education there. He works with 18 different groups, and often encounters problems because of inter-tribal tensions.

There are about 6000 Anglicans in Ethiopia, and Bishop Proud is working to put in structures for theological education there. He works with 18 different groups, and often encounters problems because of inter-tribal tensions.

Seafarers’ study call. The Seamen’s Church Institute, an ecumenical agency affiliated with the Episcopal Church in the United States, has called for a study on the effects of piracy on seafarers and new guide­lines to be adopted to care for victims of piracy.

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