India for checking piracy in Gulf of Guinea

 Expressing concern over the surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea near the western coast of Africa, India today extended support to international efforts to tackle the threat of armed robbery at sea.

Participating in an UN Security Council debate on 'Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea' here, India's Permanent Representative Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said piracy has become a major threat to maritime navigation, trade and economic activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

"Piracy off both coasts of Africa shows the instability prevalent in the regions and the reach of organised terrorist and criminal groups," Puri said. These groups are targeting oil and chemical vessels as well as oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Guinea and employing severe violence against their captives.

India is concerned about the surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, including its economic and social cost, the Indian envoy said. Puri expressed the possibility that the failure of the international community to act decisively against piracy off the coast of Somalia could have spawned a new surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

With the region producing more than five million barrels of oil per day and three-quarters of world's supply of cocoa, pirate attacks are adversely affecting the emerging oil industry of the region as well as the commercial shipping and mariners, Puri said.

"India stands ready to contribute to international efforts aimed at increasing effective cooperation among States in the region to tackle the threat of piracy and armed robbery at sea," he said.

The UN Secretary General's report on the issue states that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is causing economic loss of USD 2 billion, which is significant when compared to annual GDPs of countries in the region. The business of piracy is attracting a large number of unemployed youth as the evolving business model of piracy involves low cost and risk and high returns.

"While socio-economic issues like poverty, unemployment may be abetting piracy, main reasons have to do with limited institutional capacity of the countries in the region," Puri added.

Addressing problems like proliferation of weapons, poor naval infrastructure, weak law enforcement and prosecution systems have to become integral to counter-piracy efforts.
Otherwise, like piracy off the coast of Somalia, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea can fast assume intensity and proportion of an organised cartel in the countries of western Africa, he added.

Puri said it is time for the UN Security Council to take concrete action against the problem of piracy. It is necessary that action should involve full cooperation of the international community, led by the United Nations, with the countries of West Africa and regional and sub-regional organizations.

India welcomed steps like establishment of sub-regional coast guard network in West and Central Africa, establishment of Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Central Africa (CRESMAC), creation of Gulf of Guinea Commission (GCC) and the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).

Puri said such efforts should be intensified and include joint counter-piracy efforts like patrolling and surveillance of the coastal waters, sharing of information and intelligence and capacity building of naval forces.

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