Nine crew of the Norwegian flagged MV Bonita were kidnapped by pirates on the 2nd of November when the ship was at the anchor off the coast of Benin in West Africa. Two days after that i.e. on the 4th of November, four crew members of the Greek flagged Elka Aristotle were taken hostage off the coast of Togo.
In the past few months, many other such incidents have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea which includes the incident when eight crew members were taken hostage off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish seafarers off the coast of Nigeria in July.
In the Gulf, piracy and armed robbery have been a problem for a long time however, the rate of attacks is rising. This year alone there are reports of 62 seafarers being captured off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin, and Cameroon.
David Heindel, the section chair of ITF seafarers called on the shipping industry, governments and unions to work together so as to remove piracy from the Gulf of Guinea.
“Alarmingly, the frequency and severity of attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea are increasing, with a spate of recent kidnappings and ruthless acts of violence in recent months. The entire maritime industry urgently needs to take action to improve prevention, reporting, and response to attacks across the Gulf,” said Heindel.
“Coastal countries in the Gulf must work with industry and unions to identify actions, and allocate adequate resources, to reduce the risks posed to seafarers and shipping.
“While we acknowledge the difficult international regulatory environment, we must continue to build capacity and cooperation, and address the mounting human toll that these attacks are having on lives and physical and mental health transiting through the waters of West Africa,” said Heindel.
According to the report by the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) which was given last month, 86 percent of the crew taken hostage and about 82 percent of the kidnapping of crew globally has been accounted for in the Gulf of Guinea.