In the first nine months of 2020, there was a 40% increase in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf of Guinea compared with the same period in 20191. Our Regional Programme offers support to seafarers and their families affected by maritime piracy, like this crew who were attacked by pirates close to Lagos last month.
In early September 2020, Nigerian pirates boarded a cargo vessel and kidnapped two Russian crew members. The remaining 16 crew members were rescued by the Nigerian Navy and the vessel was escorted to a safe anchorage for investigations.
A chaplain from Apostleship of the Sea in Nigeria contacted ISWAN’s local social worker, Afusat Eke, and the National Seafarers Welfare Board of Nigeria to ask if we would provide emotional and spiritual support to the crew. Afusat visited the vessel with representatives from The Mission to Seafarers and spoke to the crew members one-on-one about their experience.
Many of the seafarers explained to Afusat that they had been frightened by this horrific experience. At the time of the attack, they heard a loud announcement of ‘Pirates on board!’ and ran to the citadel for safety. However, the bosun believed that pirates went straight to the bridge where the captain and chief mate were, so these two crew members didn’t have time to get to the citadel and were kidnapped.
The seafarers said they were gradually overcoming the fear and anxiety from the attack with each new day, but they were all thinking about their captain and chief mate and worrying about the lack of information about how they were doing. There is still no news on the two kidnapped crew members.
Talking to someone in person can relieve some of the emotional burden after a traumatic experience, and the crew deeply appreciated the emotional support from ISWAN and The Mission to Seafarers. We will always be available if any of the crew or their families need further support.
If you or a family member have been affected by piracy, you can contact SeafarerHelp at any time – all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. We will refer you to a member of our Regional Team if there is someone in your region who can help. Find out more about our work on piracy here.
1ICC International Maritime Bureau. Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships: 1 January to 30 September 2020. https://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php/1296-pirates-are-kidnapping-more-seafarers-off-west-africa-imb-reports (accessed 16 October 2020).