Did the government pay money for the release of the poor Chandlers, that elderly couple
who decided to do a spot of yachting off the coast of Somalia? Indirectly, without question. What passes for a government over there, the Somali Federal Republic, has confirmed that some of the
£30m aid we bunged the country recently had been passed on to Mr and Mrs Chandler’s kidnappers, in the form of a ransom payment. I suppose they thought they were helping matters by
making this admission, and that we’d be pleased that some of the money we give them actually produces tangible results for two British people. However, there are worries that this will
encourage kidnappers and pirates still further, and the British government has a policy of not giving in to ransom demands, allegedly.
I think I’m with the Somalis on this one. It is the most corrupt country in the world, according to the latest UN figures (if it is a country at all), and my assumption is that almost all aid
sent to the place goes in the pockets of one or another predatory savage; a local warlord here, a tribal chief there, a politician and so on. It might be better if in future we hypothecated aid to
go directly towards freeing westerners held in the place. And then when the westerners are released we should impound their yachts and sell them on eBay in an attempt to recoup some of that money.