Piracy on the agenda at the IMO
The world's most dangerous waters, the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, are now a major topic on the agenda of the United Nations' International Maritime Organization, the IMO. The topic is to be discussed at the next meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee in May.
In a letter to all Member States, Secretary-General Kitack Lim expressed his concern about the poor security situation in the Gulf of Guinea. Not least following a piracy attack on a container ship on 23 January, which ended with one crew member being killed and 15 kidnapped.
Prior to this event, the number of kidnappings has increased in recent years, and three Danish ships have been attacked in recent months. As a result, Danish Shipping is also pleased that the IMO is now joining the fight.
"It is not a moment too early for the IMO to come on board with this agenda. Denmark has been amongst those who have shouted the loudest and done the most to make politicians and authorities aware of the problem. In Denmark we have been heard by the politicians, but the problem requires international attention if the situation is going to improve," says Anne H. Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping.
In January, Denmark appointed a new special representative for maritime security and at the same time increased support for the fight against maritime crime by DKK 10 million.
In addition, after several meetings with Danish Shipping, the Minister of Defence, Trine Bramsen, has announced that she is trying to gain support for an international military effort in the Gulf of Guinea.
"Improving security for the merchant fleet in the Gulf of Guinea is our number one priority, so we will contribute everything we can at the IMO, and we look forward to Denmark actively participating with relevant authorities in this work," says Anne H. Steffensen.
In the letter to the Member States, the IMO sets out how a working group is being set up to work on the problem, and the Member States are encouraged to coordinate efforts to influence decision-makers.
It is positive that the problem is now high on the agenda of the UN's maritime organisation, and I hope that, together with other initiatives, this will make a difference," says Anne H. Steffensen.
Facts about the Gulf of Guinea:
More than 95% of all kidnappings at sea last year took place in the Gulf of Guinea.
A total of 130 kidnappings were recorded*, the highest number the International Maritime Bureau has ever seen in the area.
In 2019, 121 kidnappings were registered* in the Gulf of Guinea, while in 2018 there were 78 kidnappings*.
In addition, there has been a high number of incidents in which ships have been attacked and pirates may have come on board, but without being able to kidnap the crew.
In January MAERSK CARDIFF was attacked south of Nigeria.
In December 2019 MAERSK CADIZ was attacked by pirates in almost exactly the same place.
In November 2020 TORM ALEXANDRA was attacked.
In all three cases, the crews fortunately escaped physically unharmed from the incidents with the help of Nigerian and Italian warships.
The Danish Defence Intelligence Service writes in its most recent risk assessment for 2020that the underlying causes of piracy are not expected to change positively in the short to medium term. Nor does it expect Nigeria and the other countries to be able to intervene effectively against the pirates.
Source: Danish Shipping