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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs