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Save Our Seafarers

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The problem of piracy

2,000 Somali pirates are hijacking the world'seconomy

Somali piratesBoth the number and severity of hijackings by gangs of Somali criminals is escalating. Heavily-armed pirates board unarmed vessels and seize the ship, cargo and crew for ransom. The appalling conditions under which crew members are being held for 6- 8 months are getting worse, with evidence of barbaric torture and execution of innocent seafarers whose only crime is to keep world trade flowing. Ransom demands run into hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the total cost of piracy to the global economy is $7-12bn a year.

Navies from friendly seafaring nations offer protection to shipping in the Western Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden but these are vast areas to patrol – bigger than the whole surface area of Western Europe. The area covered by pirates has been extended by their use of captured vessels (motherships) crewed by hostages and used as floating bases.

The shipping industry is doing everything it can to secure the sea routes but we are a service industry, not a government. We have no military power. We cannot pass laws.

Even when the naval forces know where the motherships are operating, and even when pirates are apprehended by the naval forces, outdated maritime law and the lack of political will means that the motherships are left alone, and that 80% of captured pirates are set free to attack again.

Piracy has become a way of life for hundreds of Somalis who have little to work for in their lawless and poverty-stricken country.

Thanking the campaign contributors of SaveOurSeafarers