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Over a Quarter of Sailors Seeking Help Affected by Piracy

More than a quarter of seafarers seeking crisis response are affected by piracy, according to data provided by Sailors’ Society.

The maritime charity’s Crisis Response Network (CRN) provided support to its 100th case this week, with piracy, death at sea and abandonment accounting for almost two-thirds, or 59 percent, of those supported.

The high level of these cases reflects the rise in piracy reported to the International Maritime Bureau, as a total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2018, compared to 121 reported in the same period in 2017.

The number of crew members held hostage is increasing in comparison to the same period in 2017, from 80 incidents to 112 by the third quarter of 2018. The Gulf of Guinea accounts for 57 of the 156 reported incidents, with the majority of these reported in and around Nigeria.

“Piracy, and the fear of piracy, is a massive issue for seafarers,” Stuart Rivers, Sailors’ Society’s CEO, said.

“Survivors of piracy and kidnappings are exposed to violence and terror, which can have a devastating impact on them and their families for years to come.

“That such a high number of those seeking support from our Crisis Response Network have been affected by the trauma of piracy is sadly not surprising.”

Just days ago, 11 seafarers were seized by pirates off the coast of Nigeria. The sailors were taken from the containership MV Pomerenia Sky, operated by Germany’s Peter Dohle Schiffahrts, on October 27.

The attack occurred some 60 km off the coast of Nigeria on the fairway to the port of Bonny. At the time, the vessel was on its way from Luanda, Angola to Nigerian port of Onne.

Southampton-based Sailors’ Society set up its 24/7 rapid response team in South Africa in 2015 to provide trauma care and counselling to survivors of piracy attacks, natural disasters and crises at sea. The CRN has since expanded to Europe and Asia.