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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs