PIRACY in East African waters escalated in earnest last year. In 2017, 54 incidents were reported, against 27 the previous year and just 16 in 2015, according to the annual State of Piracy report published by One Earth Future’s Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) programme.
These “incidents” include suspicious activity, failed attacks, and, for the first time in two years, hijackings and kidnappings. Blame the spike on complacency in the shipping industry, the report says (vessels have cut down on self-protection measures). Fewer counter-piracy ships don’t help, either. OBP put the total economic cost of piracy in East Africa at $1.4 billion, with the extra fuel used by ships that speed through high-risk areas accounting for about half of that.
But, as IRIN’s July 2017 feature explained, there is also an untold humanitarian impact on the region, where organised crime, unrelenting clan wars, and drought have combined to leave millions of Somalis in need of emergency aid.