News / Africa

Piracy Victims Endure Harsher Treatment in East Africa

Crew members of the Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture look out from the ship at the Kenyan Port of Mombasa, April 28, 2011.
Crew members of the Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture look out from the ship at the Kenyan Port of Mombasa, April 28, 2011.
Selah Hennessy
— Piracy in West Africa now affects more ships and seafarers than piracy coming from Somalia, according to a new report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), however, Somali pirates tend to mete out harsher treatment to their hostages. The report focuses on the human impact of piracy.

According to the International Maritime Bureau’s data, the total number of seafarers attacked by pirates decreased significantly in 2012. 

But it says although the number of attacks decreased, there was a sharp rise in their reported success rate. That, it says, could be an indication that piracy tactics have improved.

And, according to the report, the level of violence has not gone down either.

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Center, says all hostages held in Somalia are considered "high risk."

“We have had cases of physical torture of the crew members and psychological pressure being put upon them.  After they are released from captivity they need a lot of aftercare to make sure they are able to sail again and that is not being done in many of the countries that supply crew members,” said Mukundan.

IMB published the report together with two other groups - Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program.  The report is based on a number of interviews with seafarers and their families about the physical and psychological impact of piracy.

Mukundan says the IMB and ship owners often struggle to learn about the condition of sailors held by Somali pirates.

“There are still crew members who have been held there for more than two years and there is still very little information coming out about where they are, who is holding them, and under what terms they are going to be released,” said Mukundan.

Seafarers captured off the east coast of Africa are typically held for much longer than those captured on the west coast. But the number of seafarers impacted by West Coast piracy is actually higher.

In 2012, 966 seafarers were attacked by West African pirates.  Just over 200 were taken hostage. But, as the report points out, attacks in the Gulf of Guinea regions have not received the same level of attention.

The main risk area is off the coast of Nigeria, the region’s major oil producer.  Mukundan says pirates typically target tankers exporting crude oil and importing refined petroleum, later selling the cargo on the black market.

“They don't steal all the cargo; they steal a part of it - three or four thousand tons.  Once they have stolen the cargo, then the vessel and the crew are normally released," said Mukundan.

And in the Gulf of Guinea region, ships do not have the protection offered by international navies that patrol the waters off Somalia.

As a result, seafarers are growing increasingly wary of working in the Gulf of Guinea region.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid