Horn of Africa Replaces Malacca Straits as Main ‘Piracy Hot Spot’ Says Willis

April 16, 2008

A report from Willis notes that “over the last 18 months, pirate attacks have become more prevalent off the horn of Africa than in the traditional hot spot of the Malacca Straits. This is particularly worrying for Danish shipping companies who have recently been targets of a number of attacks in Somali waters.”

Suzanne Williams QPM, a consultant for Special Contingency Risks (SCR), a subsidiary of Willis Group Holdings Limited, will address these concerns at an exclusive seminar for the Danish Shipowners’ Association (Rederiforeningen) in Copenhagen today, Wednesday April16. She has served as a Detective Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police in London and was most recently head of the Hostage Crisis Unit at New Scotland Yard.

Willis noted: “In February of this year, the Danish-owned Svitser tug boat was set free for a substantial ransom by Somali pirates after 47 days in captivity; while in June of last year, a Danish cargo ship, the Danica White, was also seized by pirates off the Somali coast. According to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau, the global incidence of piracy has decreased from 445 attacks in 2003 to 263 attacks in 2007, however attacks rose by 14 percent last year due to the increased activity in Somali waters.”

Williams explained: “The multi-national government co-operation between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore has resulted in increased patrols of the Malaccan Straits and a crackdown on piracy. The situation has arisen off the coast of Somalia due to a lack of effective central government and no navy to patrol its waters.”

“Piracy is often romanticized,” she continued, “and therefore somewhat legitimized because of its historical legacy, but it is a very real threat. In terms of prevention, we advise our clients to strictly adhere to the recommendations of the International Maritime Organization – including staying at least 200 miles off the Somali coast, avoiding anchoring in high risk areas and increasing surveillance and lighting.”

Willis said its SCR unit has a 40 percent market share in the field. It assists corporations, high net worth individuals and families in the prevention, insurance and management of kidnap and other types of extortion.

Source: Willis Group Holdings – www.willis.com

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