Cypriot shipowners call for action on kidnappings
The Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) expressed "growing frustration with the international community's ineffectiveness" in resolving the long-standing piracy and maritime kidnapping issue in the Gulf of Guinea.
Incidents of kidnap-for-ransom occur regularly in the waters off Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Equatorial Guinea and the neighboring states. Pirate attacks have been common in the area for decades but they have moved away from petroleum theft in recent years in favor of abduction of crew. The country now leads the world in seaside kidnappings.
"There is growing concern that the international community is not actively seeking to eliminate piracy in the region and is instead treating the current level of attacks against shipping as somehow tolerable,In effect, pirates are being given a message that their criminal activity carries very few risks in comparison to the millions of dollars that can be made from extorting ransom payments. As a result, the number of pirates is growing, and there is real danger that, in the absence of a firm response, their methods of hijack and violent kidnapping will be successfully emulated by others elsewhere," said the Cyprus Shipping Chamber in a statement.
It has also called on the coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea to strengthen measures against piracy. To date a fairly small percentage of piracy incidents in the area have been detected and thwarted by local government forces.
The CSC stated that UNCLOS puts the burden on the national governments to protect shipping.
Outside forces have seen reasonable success in anti-piracy bans off West Africa in a handful of cases. The Spanish Navy patrol vessel Serviola responded last year to two pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, including one in which it chased off the attackers.
The international anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa on the other side of the continent have almost eliminated Somali pirate attacks since 2012.
Maritime Business World