Although the shipping industry has made great progress with anti-piracy measures in the past few years, over 50 seafarers are still being held hostage by armed gangs of Somali pirates, in appalling conditions, subject to physical and psychological abuse.
Their ships have been hijacked at sea and they are being held to ransom for millions of dollars. The human cost to seafarers and their families is enormous.
This affects YOU. Piracy is beginning to strangle key supply routes. 90% of the world's food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods are delivered by sea. Nearly half the world's seaborne oil supply passes through the pirate-infested western and northern Indian Ocean.
World trade is still under threat. Piracy costs the global economy £18 billion a year (World Bank) yet even when they’re caught, many of the pirates are released to attack again.
You can help stop this hostage-taking and help restore the freedom of the seas. Please add your voice to our worldwide call for continued international government action. More robust law enforcement, tougher defences, firmer political resolve and more courts and prisons have broken the grip of piracy.
It is imperative that we maintain this progress.
Seafarers at sea across vast areas of the Indian Ocean, where armed gangs of pirates operate, are putting their well-being and even their lives at risk.
- There are more than 100,000 seafarers at any one time either travelling or preparing to go through the Gulf of Aden. Taking their families’ feelings into account, you have half a million people gripped by fear due to Somalian piracy.
- About a quarter of seafarers taken hostage by Somalian pirates report abusive treatment.
Pirate attacks are swift and often at night. In many cases a small ‘skiff’ dispatched from a mothership pulls alongside the vessel, often undetected if the crew are occupied with their duties or sleeping. The pirates board and overwhelm the crew. Any resistance is futile and likely to be met with unrestrained violence.
Torture and abuse
From that moment on, life for the seafarers descends into a nightmare of deprivation, starvation, thirst, squalor, captivity, restraint, isolation from family and friends and worse. If negotiations with the vessel’s insurers become too protracted, the pirate gangs’ response is to torture their prisoners. Torture methods include genital torture, prolonged incarceration, and beatings. Released seafarers speak of loss of hope, faith and psychological damage as they and their colleagues are subjected to weeks and months of torture and abuse.
The long-lasting effects - wrecked lives, wrecked families, destroyed livelihoods and lost faith
On release, many captives are skeletal, damaged, traumatised and broken in mind and spirit. Although younger seafarers often have a chance to recover and resume their lives, older hostages rarely return to sea. They and their families pay for the misfortune of being captured with a lifetime of hardship, poverty, illness and depression.
For more information on the Human Cost of Piracy a range of documents are available for download courtesy of the One Earth Future Foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy.
Our seafarers suffer for your family’s wellbeing
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Over 90% of the goods we use are transported by sea. The ‘Somali piracy zone’ covers one of the world’s most important sea trading routes for food, aid, raw materials, manufactured goods like cars and, critically, oil.
The danger and cost of piracy means that shipping is being be forced to divert around the Cape of Good Hope. This adds billions of dollars a year to freight costs; these costs are passed on to us all.
The most notable costs in 2011* include:
- $2,710 million in fuel costs of increased speeds of vessels transiting through high risk areas
- $1,270 million for military operations
- $1,100 million for security equipment and armed guards
- $635 million is attributed to insurance
- $580 million is spent on re-routing vessels along the western coast of India
- $195 million is estimated for increased labour costs and danger pay for seafarers
- $160 million is paid in ransoms
- $16 million is spent on the prosecution and imprisonment of Somali pirates
*Figures from ‘Oceans Beyond Piracy’
Shipping and seafarers carry 80% of the piracy burden
For more information on the Economic Cost of Piracy a range of documents are available for download courtesy of the One Earth Future Foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy.