Gulf of Guinea is world hotspot for kidnappings at sea

A steep increase in kidnappings at sea 40% – make the Gulf of Guinea off Africas west coast the world hotspot for this maritime crime, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

In its latest report for the third quarter of the year, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) bureau notes pirates armed with guns and knives are abducting larger groups of seafarers further off the West African coast than before.

IMBs latest global piracy report details 132 attacks since the start of 2020, up from 119 incidents in the same period last year. Of 85 seafarers kidnapped from vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea in 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

The first nine months of 2020 saw seafarers report 134 cases of assault, injury and threats, including 85 crew kidnapped and 31 held hostage aboard their ships.

All told 112 vessels were boarded and six were fired at, while 12 reported attempted attacks. Two fishing vessels were hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea.

Crews face exceptional pressures due to COVID-19 and the risk of violent piracy or armed robbery is an extra stress, said Michael Howlett, IMB director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has responded to reports and shared data since 1991, supporting seafarers and fishers worldwide. IMB liaises with authorities swiftly in case of a pirate attack, we encourage all coastal states and regional co-operative associations to ensure maritime security....

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