News / Africa

    American Cases Highlight Piracy Risks in Africa

    FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
    FILE - A crew of U.S. sailors and Nigerian special forces fighters prepares to board the NNS Burutu for a training exercise as worries mount of increasingly violent pirate attacks along the West African coast.
    Pamela Dockins
    Two cases this week involving American piracy victims in Africa have highlighted the maritime dangers in the region. However, maritime experts say there are significant differences in the causes and response to piracy off the coast of Somalia and incidents in the troubled Gulf of Guinea, near Nigeria.
     
    A judge in Norfolk, Virginia has ordered Somali national Ahmed Muse Salad to serve 19 consecutive life sentences for his role in the 2011 murders of four Americans.
     
    Salad was among a group of Somali pirates who boarded a yacht carrying its American owners and two crew members off Africa's east coast. The four Americans were shot and killed after negotiations with the U.S. navy broke down.
     
    In another case, the State Department said two Americans who were kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria's coast last month have been freed. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki welcomed their release, but provided few details.
     
    "For privacy reasons, we will not provide any additional information on the two individuals or the circumstances of their release," said Psaki.
     
    The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center reports that the overall number of piracy attacks near Somalia has dropped over the past year, largely due to increased naval patrols.
     
    There were 11 reported incidents of piracy near Somalia, including two hijackings, between January and October of this year.
     
    Around the waters of Nigeria, there were 30 reported incidents in the same period, including two hijackings.
     
    James Bridger, a maritime security consultant with Delex Systems, said that what is often referred to as piracy near Nigeria is actually an extension of criminal behavior on shore.
     
    “In the Gulf of Guinea as a whole it is, at its lowest level, it is simply robbing ships at anchor, at berth. That’s a really opportunistic affair. You also have kidnap for ransom both on land and at sea,” explained Bridger.
     
    Bridger pointed out that many of the security measures that have been effective in curbing piracy off Somalia's coast do not exist in the Gulf of Guinea.
     
    "For one, armed guards are not allowed inside of the territorial waters of Nigeria in particular, or really any state in West Africa. You can have armed guards outside of the 12 miles, [the] 12 nautical mile territorial limit, but as soon as they go inside, their weapons have to be under lock and key. And, if they are going into Nigeria, which is the most dangerous, they can’t have weapons at all," said Bridger.
     
    Bridger said one of the few options for shipping companies in the region is to "rent" Nigerian security personnel.
     
    Kevin Krick, the Senior Director of Security and Environment for APL, a global transportation company that does shipping in regions including Africa, notes that the extra security measures have a financial impact.
     
    "It means we need to take additional measures to ensure that our vessels are safeguarded. So, there is a cost involved," said Krick.  
     
    Krick said that his company is grateful for the naval counter-piracy measures that have been put in place to protect maritime commerce, which he says is a "life-blood" for industry.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora