11/27/2023, 11.18
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Appeal to Modi against piracy in the Malacca Strait

by Nirmala Carvalho

One of the world's busiest and most important "waterways" has seen assaults rise again in recent times. The president of the Goa Seamen's Association calls on the Indian premier for joint action to strengthen security measures.

Goa (AsiaNews) - The Goan Seamen Association of Goa (GSAI) has reiterated its concern over the growing number of pirate-related attacks suffered by seafarers sailing through the Strait of Malacca - the Indian Ocean waterway that separates Indonesia and Malaysia - and in other areas such as the Singapore Strait - which divides Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Frank Viegas, president of GSAI, underlined the gravity of the situation, highlighting increasing incidents of pirate attacks in the Straits of Malacca, a route located between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malaysian peninsula.

In a petition addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other international maritime organizations, the GSAI called for the implementation of additional security measures to protect maritime traffic from the growing threat of pirates.

It came after the latest case seriously endangered the safety and security of the sailors of a ship under attack. The category requires immediate attention and appropriate action. The GSAI for its part urged the authorities to take immediate and concrete measures to safeguard the lives and interests of seafarers: “The Strait of Malacca is one of the busiest and most crucial shipping routes globally and serves as a key link between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. However, recent incidents of piracy in the region have raised serious doubts about the adequacy of security measures aimed at protecting the lives and property of seafarers and shipowners,” Viegas comments.

He adds: “Piracy attacks in the Strait of Malacca are a constant, but they have increased in recent years and it happens more and more often that, as in the last episode, a sailor is seriously injured during the attack when the pirates come on board of the ship."

Joint action is needed to strengthen security measures to prevent piracy in the Strait of Malacca and other areas of the region, such as the Singapore Strait: “Greater collaboration is needed between the relevant authorities, including naval forces, coast guard agencies and international organizations. It is essential to ensure everyone's safety and security."

These pirate attacks not only result in huge financial losses for the shipping industry, “but also pose serious threats to the safety and mental well-being of seafarers who become victims of piracy. The traumatic experiences faced by seafarers, including kidnapping, physical aggression and even the death of some comrades, require strengthened compensation measures, at least three times higher than those provided today", concludes Viagas.

Since 2009, intergovernmental cooperation has drastically reduced the phenomenon: in Indonesian waters alone in 2004 there were 93 cases of piracy. Today they are in the order of a single dozen.

According to piracy expert Catherine Zara Raymond: “Piracy has certainly been a source of concern in this sea route in the past, with up to seventy-five attacks documented in 2000 in the Straits of Malacca alone. The number of cases has been decreasing since 2005, with growth however below the levels seen last year, an increase confirmed in 2023".

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