n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea - maritime piracy is a region-threatening and region-binding phenomenon : West Africa - issue in focus - : West Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 11
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The continued increase in incidents of maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and along other parts of the West African coastline, particularly in the period from June to August 2013, has prompted more concerted efforts on the part of regional actors to counter this threat. Maritime piracy off the West African coast has overtaken maritime piracy off East Africa (predominantly around Somalia) as the major hotspot of maritime insecurity around the African continent. In particular, ships moored off the coast in the vulnerable Gulf of Guinea have experienced a growing rate of illegal boardings, high seas theft, hostage taking or kidnappings and, in a few instances, the seizing of the ship itself. As with most international maritime piracy, incidents of violence and murder are rare because both pirates and maritime crews have attempted to avoid escalation of conflict into lethality. Nevertheless, the spread and increase of incidents of piracy represent a threat to regional stability. The lucrative potential of ransoms and black market oil serves is a potential motivator for transnational organised criminal-organisation growth. The targeting of West Africa's oil industry, as well as local fishing and trade, is a source of significant regional commercial disruption. Attacks have resulted in increased insurance costs and have increasingly drawn the attention not only of those countries affected within the region but also the international community, particularly as international crews are increasingly targeted.

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