International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says the number of ship’s crewmembers being kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea increased by more than 50% in 2019 and this year has begun with a further escalation of violence, armed robbery and kidnaping. The crisis is deepening – pirates are bolder and taking greater number of hostages. Levels of violence are high, and deaths have occurred both during attacks and during captivity of seafarers and military personnel. This is not business as usual. For example, 20 crewmembers were kidnapped from the MT Duke on 15 December last year with one of those crewmembers dying in captivity – this not acceptable.
Over 90% of global kidnappings reported at sea took place in the Gulf of Guinea. It remains an uncomfortable fact that the vast majority of attacks are launched on shipping from within Nigerian territorial waters. We recognise that Nigeria is improving its maritime security capability through programmes such as the Deep Blue Project and ICS applauds and encourages these measures. However, now is the time to see real results in terms of action at sea and in the capture and prosecution of pirates.
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