The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to intensify the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, a black spot for shipowners and which would cost the region nearly two billion dollars a year.
Drafted by Norway and Ghana, non-permanent members of the Council, the resolution “Strongly condemns piracy and armed robbery at sea, including acts of murder, kidnapping and hostage taking, in the Gulf of Guinea”.
After a favorable vote by the 15 members of the Security Council, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, ambassador to the United Nations of the United States, who chairs the Council in May, announced that the resolution “2634 (2022) had been adopted unanimously”.
The text urges “Member States of the Gulf of Guinea region to act quickly, at national and regional levels, with the support of the international community (…), to develop and implement maritime security strategies”.
The resolution calls on “Member States in the region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea within the framework of their national legislation”.
For the Norwegian Ambassador to the UN, Mona Juul, with “more than 1,000 ships crossing the waters of the Gulf of Guinea every day”, piracy also concerns “dozens of countries investing in Central and Southern Africa”.
“Two billion dollars a year”
Citing UN figures, Ms. Juul assessed “two billion dollars a year” the cost of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Beyond territorial waters, cooperation on the high seas is absolutely necessary” where pirates are increasingly venturing, a UN official had told AFP before the vote, stressing the “weak military capabilities” African regimes.
The Gulf of Guinea, whose waters rich in hydrocarbons and halieutic resources border some twenty countries, extends over 5,700 km from Senegal to Angola. Some 99% of sailors kidnapped by pirates in 2020 worked in the Gulf of Guinea, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Stable Seas research institute.
The pirate groups concentrated in the Niger Delta which overlooks the Gulf of Guinea “earn maybe five million dollars in direct income a year from robbery and hostage-taking”says this report.
Most “the total cost of piracy for the coastal States of the Gulf of Guinea (represents) at least 1.925 billion per year“in direct and indirect losses, specifies the document.
The region recorded 52 pirate attacks in 2021, compared to 115 in 2020, according to the Maritime Information Cooperation & Awareness Center, which highlights the actions already taken against insecurity at sea.