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Belgian Frigate Against West Africa Piracy

February 16, 2015 - 12:35:52 UTC

Belgian Frigate Against West Africa Piracy

THE WARSHIP Leopold I, a Karel Doorman-class frigate and flagship of the Belgian Navy, set sail on Tuesday from its base in Zeebrugge. The ship and its crew last year were part of the European Union's Operation Atalanta fight against Somali piracy, but this time their destination is the coast of Africa in the west and particularly the Gulf of Guinea for a period eight weeks.

Belgian Frigate Leopold I Photo: Lavenir.net

This mission will have two components with the same purpose: to strengthen the capacity of African countries to ensure the safety of their territorial waters and the fight against piracy and numerous other maritime crimes.

The goal: improving maritime safety in the region through training, support and professionalisation of navies of Africa in the west and local coastguards. These navies, have very different challenges in the fight against illegal fishing, human and arms trafficking, drug trafficking and piracy.
The Gulf of Guinea has become the new piracy centre of gravity in Africa, with piracy largely contained in the east of the continent, thanks to the presence of several fleets of warships in the Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast. Due to the limited resources of the regional countries, often poor, the region is struggling to put in order of battle against the scourge of piracy.
In the first nine months of 2014, the Gulf of Guinea remained the African lead in terms of piracy, with 33 recorded attacks - but down compared to the same period in 2013 (47) - against 10 off Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The number of cases not reported, however, remains unaccountable.
Pirates operating off Nigeria, from Togo or Benin are generally well-armed and violent, according to the IMB. Sometimes they divert ships for several days, taking the time to loot the bunker fuel, and brutalize the crews who are less and less inclined to navigate these waters.

Original Source: Lavenir.net

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