GULF OF GUINEA

Recently, nine Chinese and eight Ukrainian seamen have been abducted after two merchant vessels came under attack in Cameroonian waters. The attacks took place off the Port of Douala.

Gulf of Guinea

  • The Gulf of Guinea is the north-easternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
  • The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian (zero degrees latitude and longitude) is in this gulf.
  • Among the many rivers that drain into the Gulf of Guinea are the Niger and the Volta.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea:

  • Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community making it becoming an issue of global concern.
  • Pirates here are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to steal oil cargo.
  • The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recently described the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous area in the world for shipping.
  • According to its estimations, 73 percent of all sea kidnappings and 92 percent of hostage-takings occur there, with pirates normally taking sailors for ransom.

Causes of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea:

Youth unemployment and widespread poverty are one of the main triggering factors for piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and as admitted by the UN Security Council during a meeting set to discuss a mission to the region ‘any comprehensive anti-piracy strategy might also need to take into account root causes, including high levels of youth unemployment’.

Severe political disputes are considered another reason contributing to the rise of piracy in the area, and in some cases directly feeding into the piracy activity itself.

  • Of particular relevance are the activities of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, in the south of Nigeria; this organization has publicly stated to steal and smuggle oil ‘as a form of re-appropriation of wealth and as a form of protest’.
  • Another major and relevant controversy has involved the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria; the two countries have been in dispute about the sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula, which has caused a lack of cooperation between the governments resulting in poor control over illegal activities.
  • Corruption is another major contributing factor, especially with regards to the case of Nigeria. Attention has been called towards the political protection that some of those who attack installations and personnel of oil companies, especially in the Niger Delta, enjoy protection from certain local authorities.

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