News / Africa

Pirate Attacks Falling in 2013

Suspected pirates keep their hands in the air as directed by sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) (not shown), in the Gulf of Aden, February 11, 2009.
Suspected pirates keep their hands in the air as directed by sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) (not shown), in the Gulf of Aden, February 11, 2009.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
The number of pirate attacks worldwide has fallen in the first half of 2013. However, maritime officials are warning that the waters off West Africa are growing more dangerous.


International Maritime Bureau Director Pottengal Mukundan highlighted the findings of the latest piracy report.

“We have had 138 incidents compared to 177 incidents for the same period in 2012. This is largely because of the reduction in the attacks off the Horn of Africa, which accounted previously for around 50 percent of the worldwide attacks,” he said.

The reduction is due to a number of reasons, including the international effort that’s been underway off the Horn of Africa. That’s dealt a major blow to Somali pirates.

“The invaluable roll played by the navies in these waters in collecting intelligence – in pursuing suspected mother ships -- interdicting them – and dealing with them before they can pose a threat to merchant shipping. That is a role which is unique to the navies. No one else can play that role,” he said.

He also credited a specific code of conduct that vessels now follow when sailing through risky areas – an increase in private security guards on board ships – and an overall improvement in security within Somalia.

“It is the role played by the new government in Somalia, which has been there since September 2012, which has given for the first time in decades a feeling of stability and security within Somalia itself. And if that continues, then it will make it very difficult for the pirates to have a safe haven to take their hijacked vessels to,” he said.

Mukundan said that while progress is being made against piracy off the Horn of Africa, things continue to worsen on the other side of the continent.

“The two main risk areas on the West Coast of Africa [are] the hijacking of product tankers as far away as Ivory Coast in order to steal a small portion of the cargo – usually two to five thousand tons of oil. And in that time the crew are subject to a certain degree of violence. The second disturbing trend in the Gulf of Guinea is the kidnapping of crew members from their vessels,” he said.

The crew members abducted in the Gulf of Guinea are usually released after about six weeks when ransom is paid. That compares to crews abducted off the Horn of Africa who may be held for as long as two years. Mukundan has called on West African nations to act.

“These kinds of crimes can be dealt with proper law enforcement actions taken by the coastal states, particularly Nigeria. They have already put a few gangs – they have caught them and they are now on trial in Nigeria. But clearly more needs to be done,” he said.

The International Maritime Bureau Director warned against complacency following success in reducing pirate attacks. Mukundan says that would be disastrous for international shipping and crew members.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid