Acts of piracy up 20% last year

According to the International Maritime Bureau, a total of 195 acts of piracy and armed robbery were recorded in 2020

The number of acts of piracy on ships jumped 20% last year, driven by a record rise in kidnappings off West Africa, the International Maritime Bureau (BIM) said in a report. report released Wednesday.

A total of 195 acts of piracy and armed robbery were recorded, up from 162 in 2019, said the office, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Out of 135 sailors kidnapped around the world, 130 were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea, off West Africa, which is a record in this area.

The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from the coasts of Senegal in the north to those of Angola, via those of Nigeria, has become in recent years the new epicenter of global piracy.

The progression of kidnappings shows “the strengthening of the capacities of the pirates of the Gulf of Guinea with more numerous attacks and further from the coast”, noted the director of the office, Michael Howlett, quoted in the annual report.

The pirates have moved from attacks on tankers to kidnapping sailors for ransom, which is proving more lucrative, said Noel Choong, head of the Bureau’s Piracy Observation Center.

Kidnappings are progressing “at an alarming rate”, he said, calling on West African countries to step up patrols.

The Gulf of Guinea has become more dangerous than the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, which has long been a hotbed of piracy.

The countries of West Africa, with the help of France and the United States, have been trying for several years to improve their means of intervention and their collaboration in the area.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which borders Africa’s two largest oil-producing countries, Nigeria and Angola, is disrupting international shipping routes.

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