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Piracy has 'not gone away', vigilance still required

The risk of piracy has “not gone away” according to chairman of Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) Peter Swift, at a conference hosted by the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI).

MPHRP provides training programmes for victims of piracy, a 24 hour helpline for family members and other support services.

Swift told attendees that 4,000 seafarers have been taken hostage globally, and 70 have lost their lives as a result of piracy, since 2007. “Fortunately attacks were down this year, but the trend could be reversible,” said Swift. “Around the world every day we estimate that 100,000 seafarers are sailing in or to piracy affected areas.”

Swift also pointed out that one of the lesser-considered aspects of piracy: the awful circumstances under which released hostages – many now with debilitating health problems due to extensive captivity - would return home to crippling, unserviced debt.

“We used to think that when the event was over it was great,” he said. “Bad times yes, torture, maybe - but now they were going home. For many it was ok, but for several it was not.”

Partner at UK law firm Holman Fenwick Willan, Richard Neylon, added: “My fear is that as the risks are perceived to be reducing, ship owners will start letting their guard down and we risk further attacks. There are still attacks happening."

Posted 19 September 2013

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