UN launches new anti-piracy drive
The UN's maritime agency launched a new drive against piracy on Thursday amid concerns that the seizing of ships by Somali pirates was outstripping international efforts to stop them.
"Piracy seems to be outpacing the efforts of the international community to stem it," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech at the launch of the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) initiative in London.
The plan aims to increase pressure at political level to secure the release of all hostages being held by pirates and promote greater coordination between navies.
Ban said ransom payments running into hundreds of millions of dollars had created a "pirate economy" in some parts of Somalia, a largely lawless state.
"The threat to international trade routes is clear," he said.
The IMO said 67 ships were hijacked off the coast of Somalia in the past 12 months alone, while a total of 714 seafarers are still being held for ransom on board 30 ships along the eastern African country's extensive coastline.
The Chatham House think tank estimates that piracy costs the global economy between $7 billion and $12 billion (five billion and 8.8 billion euros) every year.
© 2011 AFP