Mediterranean Review - 03 April 2012
This document provides an overview of developments in the Mediterranean Basin and other regions of interest from 27 March—02 April, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to the region, please contact the members of the Med Basin Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org.
In Focus: Piracy and Armed Robbery in the Gulf of Guinea
By Britta Rinehard
The increase of reported piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) has recent-ly drawn more regional and international attention. Criminal activities in that area are a clear threat to security and economic development. In 2011, incidents in the GoG hit a four-year high, with 64 attacks on ships, compared to 45 in 2010. The number of attacks continues to climb, with 13 ves-sels reportedly attacked in January and February of 2012. While some hijackings of vessels and crew members have been followed by ransom demands, the majority of incidents on the West coast of Africa involve the robbery of cargoes. Robbers in the GoG often target oil tankers and syphon the cargo to sell it on the black market. The tankers are sometimes held up to two weeks or until the cargo is transferred to smaller vessels to be later sold in Nigeria or nearby Benin.
On 01 March 2012, Lloyd’s List, a leading daily newspaper for the maritime industry, reported an incident during which eight armed pirates hijacked the cargo vessel Breiz Klipper off the coast of Nigeria. For the first time, the attackers took crewmembers off the ship as hostages. After 25 days in captivity, the two hostages were released, following negotiations encouraged by Russian, Dutch and Philippine officials. Details of the negotiations and stipulations were not disclosed. According to a United Press International (UPI) article, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the Niger Delta, was involved in the attack. At the be-ginning of March 2012, MEND announced that it will attack any ship that will not let its men board, saying “We will launch rockets at the bridge and other parts of the superstructure of such uncooperative vessels, and ensure such vessels are set alight, when we eventually board.”