West African Leaders Call for an International Anti-Piracy Naval Force

West African Leaders Call for an International Anti-Piracy Naval Force

As piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has become an overwhelming issue, West African nations are looking to enforce the presence of an international naval force to help calm attacks, BBC News reported.

In 2012, 960 sailors fell victim to pirate attacks while 851 sailors were attacked near Somalia’s coast. Many are surprised at the increased threats in West Africa as piracy in Somalia is often the worst throughout Africa.

As the continent’s largest oil producer, coastal areas surrounding Nigeria are where attacks occur most, according to BBC News.

West African leaders recently met in Yaounde, Cameroon to discuss possible preventative measures. Above all, the region would like to protect its economic stance and shipping routes.

“I urge the international community to show the same firmness in the Gulf of Guinea as displayed in the Gulf of Aden, where the presence of international naval forces has helped to drastically reduce acts of piracy,” Ivory Coast President, Alassane Ouattara said in the report.

BBC News outlined crew possessions and fuel cargo as ideal pirate treasures. Rebels are often violent in their attacks. Of the 206 hostages that were captured off of West Africa’s coast last year, five were killed.  Somali pirates on the other hand, are known for carrying out a different practice; the report states that pirates hold hostages until they are paid a ransom. Some hostages have remained in pirate custody for more than two years.

While maritime research groups revealed increased  West African piracy attack findings last week, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya said attacks must be addressed immediately.

Armed guards and more effective captain and crew practices contributed to the 78 percent decrease in Somalia coast piracy between 2011 and 2012, according to BBC News. The U.S., Europe and China have joined forces near Somalia’s coasts to help prevent attacks.

West African leaders are hoping a similar, if not the same force of nations, will do the same in the Gulf of Guinea.