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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid