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Fresh efforts to thwart pirates’ new strategies in Gulf of Guinea

A crew member prepares to board a tanker that was hijacked by pirates in Benin in July 2011A crew member prepares to board a tanker that was hijacked by pirates in Benin in July 2011 (Photo: IRIN)
July 12, 2012

Amid threats being faced from piracy in the Gulf of Guinea along the West and Central African coast, maritime, security experts and other stakeholders are drawing up strategies to combat the menace at a sub-regional conference.

The conference, which started on Wednesday in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, is being held at a time when piracy in the region is said to be on the rise.

With the economic situation in the sub-region dwindling and joblessness among the teeming youth on the ascendency, piracy and armed robbery are on the increase.

Ghana’s Transport Minister told participants at the opening ceremony that pirates have adopted a new strategy and there was the need for a concerted international effort to deal with the problem.

The conference has set an objective to come out with strategies and a roadmap that would effectively curb the scourge of maritime piracy and insecurity in West Africa.

In the first two months of this year alone (January and February 2012), the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) said 10 piracy incidents occurred in five Gulf of Guinea countries---Benin, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria

In 2010, 25 incidents were reported in seven countries by the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In briefing to the United Nations Security Council in February this year, the Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said, “Gulf of Guinea countries need a united front in order to respond to effectively to the growing threat of piracy along their coasts. Isolated national initiatives are only temporarily, at best, pushing the pirates to shift their criminal operations from one country to the next.”

As WADR's Accra correspondent Kofi Agyepong reports, while the pirates have adopted new strategies, the maritime safety conference in Ghana is brainstorming on how best to counter the pirate’s new strategy.

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