BY RITA PAYNE
With conflict and bloodshed in the Middle East, Ukraine and other parts of the world dominating international attention, one issue has dropped off the headlines – the human cost of piracy and maritime crime. This applies especially to the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa where piracy is escalating. Although the actual number of attacks on vessels may not be exceptionally high, the trauma suffered by seafarers affected by violence is having a devastating impact on them and their families.
Experts on maritime safety and the welfare of seafarers gathered in London this week to explore ways to tackle piracy-related violence off the coast of West Africa. The event was co-hosted by a private foundation, Oceans Beyond Piracy, and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Figures from the IMB show that the number of casualties, wounded and killed, in the first 9 months of 2014, is significantly higher than the total for the whole of 2013. A recent Oceans Beyond Piracy study found that in 2013, more than 1,200 seafarers faced criminals who succeeded in boarding vessels in West Africa and nearly 300 were held hostage.
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Maritime Security News Note:
An estimated 37 seafarers are still being held by Somali pirates, but you’ll never hear about them on the news in the West. Why is that? Is it because they’re not Western? Quite possibly…