The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has said that about sixty two seafarers have so far been kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea in the year 2019.The body subsequently called for urgent global and regional cooperation to fight piracy in the region.
The latest incidents occurred in early November and involved the Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita and the Greek-flagged Elka Aristotle.
Pirates kidnapped nine crew members from MV Bonita while the vessel was at anchor off the coast of Benin in West Africa, and two days later four crew members were taken hostage off the coast of Togo from Elka Aristotle.
Several other abductions have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea in recent months, including eight crew members taken hostage off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish seafarers off the coast of Nigeria in July.
“Piracy and armed robbery have been long-standing problems in the Gulf, but in recent years, and months, the frequency of attacks is increasing. Sixty-two seafarers have reportedly been captured off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon this year,” according to the ITF.
Therefore, the ITF seafarers’ section chair, David Heindel, called on the shipping industry, governments and unions to work collaboratively to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The entire maritime industry urgently needs to take action to improve prevention, reporting and response to attacks across the Gulf,” Heindel noted.
“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,” Heindel concluded.