Maritime kidnapping for ransom risks turning into an epidemic unless firm action is taken to clamp down on it.†

We are afraid to say that the maritime world could be headed for a situation like that on land in Latin America where kidnappings run into the thousands and ransom demands are huge.†

Hijacking ships and crew for ransom had started slowly but was on the increase especially in the Malacca straits region and off Somalia.

That is how it started in South America.†

Kidnapping for ransom is like a business model use of which would escalate rapidly if criminals found that it produced results.†

Demands currently were in the USD $ 50,000 to USD$ 700,000 region (pay outs after negotiations range from USD$35,000 to USD$ 300,000) similar to those early on in the Latin America where the figures are now in the USD$ 3million to USD$ 5million range.†

Hostages in the Malacca ††straits were generally held for just a few weeks, in Somalia and South America four to nine months is common.

The number of cases each year has boomed while the highest ransom known to have been paid was USD$ 72 million.

Somalia recorded 35 attacks last year and ranked second highest in the world.

It is also regarded as the most dangerous area in Africa followed by Nigeria for piracy and armed robbery.

The Somali pirates armed with guns and grenades attack ships as far as 400 nautical miles.

It appears that pirates are using mother vessels to launch these attacks far off the coast.†
Once the ship is hijacked the pirates would sail her to coastal waters where they would contact the ship owner to demand a ransom.

With †no central government and no national law enforcement infrastructure in Somalia we call upon the African Union to put †concerted efforts to protect merchant shipping from piracy.

It is high time for a UN co-ordinated force of ships backed up by aerial surveillance to be deployed off the coast of ††East Africa to deter attacks on shipping for, without such a deterrent there will be growing risk of life of seafarers and of the 1.4 million people in Somalia suffering from hunger or a major environmental disaster.

Until and unless international action is taken against the pirates Somali could become a haven for criminals who may feel encouraged to extend their activities in the wider region.

May we thank the US Navy for the good work they are doing in the Western Indian Ocean region.

We would appreciate it very much if the US government could arraign before a court of law three pirates arrested at high seas by the US Navy on 16th March ††last year.

The pirates hijacked a Thai fishing vessel OR Sirichainawa 12 while underway off the Somali coast on 16th March 2005 at approximately 04:00hrs UTC.

They held 26 crew members of the vessel hostage for ransom.

Owners of the fishing vessel contacted the IMB Piracy reporting centre who alerted the coalition warships in the area.

Three naval ships proceeded to the area rescued the fishing vessel and her 26 strong crew men and apprehended the three pirates.

We would be glad if these three pirates could be brought before a court of law.

Andrew Mwangura
Programs Co-ordinator
Seafarersí Assistance Program

Andrew Mwangura
P.O. Box 92273
Mombasa,80102 Kenya.
Cell:00254 721 393458
Fax: 00254 41 230001
E Fax:18014093908


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