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Piracy: West Africa, World's Most Dangerous Seas

Graphics: IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC)

Shailaja A. Lakshmi

The seas off West Africa's coastline are now the most dangerous in the world for shipping, the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) latest report revealed.

According to the report, of the 75 seafarers taken hostage onboard or kidnapped for ransom worldwide so far this year, 62 were captured in the Gulf of Guinea - off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC) recorded 78 incidents of piracy worldwide and armed robbery against ships in the first half of 2019, compared with 107 incidents for the same period of 2018. Overall, 57 vessels were boarded successfully, representing 73% of all attacks.

Pirates killed one person, took 38 crew-members hostage, and kidnapped a further 37 for ransom.

The IMB report reveals 73% of all kidnappings at sea, and 92% of hostage-takings, took place in the Gulf of Guinea. Armed pirates in these high-risk waters kidnapped 27 crew-members in the first half of 2019, and 25 in the same period in 2018.

Two chemical tankers were hijacked, as well as a tug that was then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast - meaning they are classified as acts of piracy.

But there are some encouraging signs of improvement. IMB PRC reports "a welcome and marked decrease" in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, commending the Nigerian navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.

While recognizing that many attacks go unreported, IMB recorded 21 incidents around Nigeria so far in 2019, down from 31 in the same period of 2018.

Jul 8, 2019

 

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