The other side of Somalia’s pirates

By Hamza Mohamed

Eyl, Somalia – Hawa Mohamed Saeed recites a prayer in a barely audible voice as she waits for the phone to ring with news of her imprisoned son. This has been her daily routine for the past five years.

Dressed in red flowing garment from top-to-toe, Hawa, 80, paces gingerly back and forth in front of a white-washed stone house with a corrugated tin roof perched on top of a mountain in the picturesque town of Eyl, in Somalia’s northeast.

Colourful prayer beads play in one hand, an old battered mobile phone in the other.

The elderly woman is awaiting news of her son who is jailed in Yemen. Farhan Mohamed Jaama – a convicted Somali pirate serving life behind bars – hasn’t called in months.

Once in a while when the waiting gets unbearable, Hawa finds the courage to call him on the smuggled phone he hides, taking a chance the no-nonsense Yemeni prison guards won’t find him answering her call.

“He was a seaman just like most people in this town, he used to go out to sea and sell the catch,” Hawa told Al Jazeera. “Our life was good. He did not only provide for us, but also for his relatives who live in towns and villages far from here. He used to pay for their rent and school fees.”

Farhan is one of more than 200 men from this town who have been hauled off to prisons far from this Horn of Africa country.

More than 1,300 young Somali men have been jailed in prisons abroad for piracy since 2005. Most have been sentenced to life in jail.

To read the entire article, please click here.



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