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Worrying growth in numbers of seafarers taken hostage by pirates

Photo: Mathew Mathai IMO sec-gen speaking at ReCAAP conference
The resurgence of Somalia piracy that has coincided with the Red Sea crisis is a cause for concern among the authorities.

Speaking at the opening of the ReCAAP Anti-Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2024 IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez noted that its public database of incidents showed a 15% rise in piracy and armed robbery incidents reported in 2023 to 150 compared to 131 in the previous year.

“One particular concern is the increase of incidents involving hostage and kidnapping crew rising from 12 to 19 in 2023, in comparison to 2022, with the total number of crew members held hostage and kidnap rising from 24 to 92,” he told the conference held as part of Singapore Maritime Week.

Chairing the opening panel of the conference Maximo Q Mejia Jr, President of the World Maritime University (WMU), said, “Somali piracy, largely dormant for more than a decade has shown a resurgence in the first quarter of this year. No less than five incidents related to Somali piracy have been reported.”

One piece of good news has been the release of the 23 crew onboard the Bangladeshi bulker Abdullah who were held hostage for 32 days by Somali pirates.

The IMO Sec-Gen said the rise in incidents and hostage takings highlighted the critical need for relevant actors to remain vigilant in combating piracy. “IMO remains fully committed to supporting regional initiatives to enhance safety and security of navigation,” he said.