UNODC Chief urges greater vigilance in face of increased attacks by Somali pirates

Ships should continue to follow the advice of navies and the International Maritime Organisation when planning passage off Somalia stresses the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

VIENNA, 4 April (UN Information Service) – Somali pirates are still a force to be reckoned with the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov warned today.

“After three attacks, following a lull of five years, it is clear that Somali pirates are resurgent and intent on continuing attacks on commercial shipping. I urge the international community to be vigilant, to work in close partnership and to hold the Somali pirates accountable,” he said.

Mr. Fedotov was speaking after a spate of recent piracy attacks off Somalia. On 13 March, MT Aris 13 was attacked by Somali pirates in speed boats and skiffs. The crew were held hostage before being released after a firefight and subsequent negotiations.

A second attack occurred on 23 March when the fishing vessel Asayr 2 was hijacked. The crew were later released, while the ship was kept by the pirates for possible future attacks on commercial shipping.

On 1 April, the cargo ship Al Kaushar was ambushed. Eleven crew are currently being held hostage by Somali pirates according to news reports. The last major attack on commercial shipping occurred in 2012 when the MV Smyrni was overrun and its crew held hostage.

Speaking about the recent attacks, the head of UNODC’s Nairobi-based Maritime Crime Programme Alan Cole said: “The threat of Somali piracy has never gone away: it has been suppressed by the good work of the shipping industry and their security teams, navies, and UNODC’s support to the trial and imprisonment of 1,300 pirates.”

Large parts of the Somali coast remain beyond the reach of law enforcement authorities so ships should continue to follow the advice of navies and the International Maritime Organisation when planning passage off Somalia. UNODC continues to support the trials of piracy suspects in the region and the Somali maritime law enforcement agencies as they extend their reach around the Somali coast.

UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme works in South and South East Asia, West Africa and the Indian Ocean, and in five locations across Somalia. The programme addresses every aspect of maritime crime including terrorism, people trafficking, migrant smuggling, narcotics trafficking, fisheries crime, maritime hostage-taking and maritime piracy.