Enhanced cooperation and implementation of best practices are needed to avoid, deter and report attacks threatening ships and crew in the world’s top piracy hotspot, says the United Nations’ (UN) maritime agency
Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) expressed his deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks on ships and crew in the Gulf of Guinea region, and insisted on the need for a collaborative approach to restore security and reduce the threats to the safety and security of crews and vessels operating in the region.
Attacks on ships have been on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, and a recent attack on the containership Mozart in January resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers. Recently released for ransom, the sailors described how they faced death threats and were held in a forest during their three-week ordeal.
In a circular letter issued last week, Lim said the IMO has been working to enhance the coordination of initiatives among stakeholders, including facilitating meetings with representatives of the industry, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre for the Implementation of Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa (ICC).
The Secretary-General also highlighted that ships need to implement the IMO endorsed Best Management Practices (BMP) for West Africa (WA) to avoid, deter, delay and report attacks. The BMP cover risk assessment, ship protection measures and reporting.
IMO said it will provide an opportunity for further discussion through a planned maritime security working group at the next session of the Maritime Safety Committee, MSC 103, scheduled to take place in May.
As it continues to provide technical assistance to Member States in the region regarding the implementation of maritime security measures, the IMO Said it is currently working with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) to assist with the implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct (YCC), a regional code aimed at enhancing maritime security and addressing piracy, armed robbery against ships, illegal fishing and other illicit maritime activity. The IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund enables the Organization’s maritime security capacity-building programme to assist Gulf of Guinea coastal States as well as regional centres under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
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