Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Fighting against Somali pirates 'effective'

03 May 2013, 12:03

New York - The fight against Somali pirates has been so effective that they haven't been able to mount a successful hijacking in nearly a year, the chair of the global group trying to combat the pirates said on Thursday.

US diplomat Donna Leigh Hopkins credits the combined efforts of international naval forces and stepped-up security on ships including the use of armed guards. But there are also other factors including the jailing of at least 1 140 Somali pirates in 21 countries "which started deglamourising piracy", she said.

Somali pirates hijacked 46 ships in 2009, 47 in 2010, but only 25 in 2011, an indication that new on-board defences were working. In 2012, there were just 75 attacks reported off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden — down from 237 attacks in 2011 — and only 14 ships were hijacked, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

"Pirate attacks are down by at least 75%," Hopkins said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"There are still pirate attacks being attempted but there has not been a successful hijacking since May 2012," she said. "May 12 will be the one year anniversary of no successful hijacking off the coast of Somalia."

Combating the pirates was discussed at a meeting at the UN on Wednesday of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia which includes over 85 countries as well as international organizations and private sector representatives.

Hopkins, the group's chair, and Danish Ambassador Thomas Winkler, who chairs its legal committee, stressed that there's no room for complacency, citing safe havens for pirates on the northern Somali coast and ransoms in the millions of dollars to release hijacked ships and crews that continue to attract young men to piracy.

Winkler said in an interview that prosecuting more than a thousand pirates and transferring a significant number to Somali prisons where conditions are grim appears to be having a preventive effect.

Armed security

"The number of active pirates is perhaps 3 000," Winkler said. "So if you put a thousand behind bars, and 300-400 die every year at sea from hunger [or] drowning ... you will quickly come down" in numbers.

Hopkins said ships from Nato, the European Union, China, Russia and many other countries have succeeded in disrupting and discouraging Somali pirates but they haven't given up and still roam a huge part of the Indian Ocean as well as the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden looking for vessels to hijack.

The last successful hijacking — on May 12 2012 — was of the MV Smyrni, a Greek-registered oil tanker less than two years old loaded with crude worth tens of millions of dollars that was released after 11 months of negotiations and payment of "a record-breaking ransom nearing $15m," Hopkins said.

"In my opinion, it is a poster child for what happens when ship owners don't employ the best management practices ... to prevent your ship from being hijacked," she said. "They did none of them, and they got exactly what one might expect. They got hijacked and they paid a very heavy price for it."

Hopkins said that while "not a single ship that has employed armed security has ever been hijacked," there are also many other security measures that have proven effective including training crew members and posting lookouts.

How optimistic is Hopkins that there won't be a hijacking before May 12?

"I'm not going to count days," she said. "Every day without a successful attack is a good day."

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...