The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organised a recent meeting in Manila to discuss piracy and maritime crime in the Sulu and the Celebes Sea. It was attended by government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and elsewhere, as well as representatives from international organisations and a number of consulates.
Figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) indicate that there has been a growth in piracy and armed robbery in the waters between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines.
One of the speakers at the event was Chirag Bahri, from ISWAN (International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network), who spoke on the perspective of seafarers and the dangers they faced in high-risk environments. ISWAN’s piracy programme provides humanitarian support to seafarers and their families affected by piracy. He advised that seafarers should be trained in piracy awareness before joining a vessel and that ships should follow best management practices when transiting through piracy-affected waters.
Recent incidents worldwide reported to the IMB 24-hour PRC include the following:
- Three people in a small skiff, two with handguns, were spotted attempting to board a container ship off Guayaquil, Ecuador on 28 August. The ship’s horn was sounded continuously and the robbers abandoned their attempt and moved away.
- Four robbers attempted to board a tanker berthed at the Insular oil terminal, Davao, Philippines on 27 August. The alarm was raised and the robbers abandoned their attempt.
- Duty crew spotted two robbers attempting to board a bulk carrier anchored at Muara Berau, Samarinda, Indonesia on 27 August. The alarm was sounded and the crew mustered. The robbers abandoned their attempt and escaped.
- Two people in a small skiff were spotted alongside a container ship off Guayaquil, Ecuador on 20 August. The onboard security guards raised the alarm and switched on all deck lighting. The robbers abandoned their attempt and moved away.
- Ten robbers boarded a barge under tow by a tug in the Singapore Straits on 3 July. The crew contacted the authorities and a police boat was dispatched. When the robbers saw the police boat approaching they escaped from the barge but re-embarked once it had left and stolen the cargo.