UN condemns piracy off West Africa
New York - The United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea off the West African coast and backed regional plans to tackle the growing problem.
This year, piracy in the region has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts, according to the Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence.
In August, London-based Lloyd's Market Association, an umbrella group of insurers, listed Nigeria, neighbouring Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and said it threatens "international navigation, security and the economic development of states in the region".
The council emphasised the importance of finding a comprehensive solution to the problem and welcomed the intention of regional leaders to hold a summit. It encouraged the leaders to develop a regional framework to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea that includes adopting new laws to criminalize these acts, information-sharing, and co-ordinating operations.
Nigeria's UN Ambassador U Joy Ogwu, the current council president, welcomed the "unequivocal support" of the UN's most powerful body to the states of the Gulf of Guinea "following the rising incidence of piracy and armed robbery at sea".
Earlier this month, pirates released the MT Cape Bird which had been seized off the coast of Nigeria, freeing the oil tanker's 20-member Eastern European crew unharmed after five days in captivity.
The resolution encouraged international assistance to support national and regional efforts to tackle piracy and welcomed contributions already made by some countries and international organisations.
The council also welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's intention to deploy a UN assessment mission to examine the piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea "and explore options on how best to address the problem".