In 2010 nearly one million seafarers (more than 65% of the world's total seafarers) signed the "End Piracy Now" petition. The petition was subsequently delivered via the IMO Secretary General to the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon.
The shipping industry remains fully united in this campaign to eradicate maritime piracy and applauds all initiatives to bring this about, including those of the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the IMO and others. Unfortunately, however, since the delivery of the petition in September 2010 the situation has worsened for seafarers trading around the world and especially in the Indian Ocean.
The period of detention for those hijacked has increased to an average of more than seven months; there are many more cases of brutal treatment, abuse and torture and lately, most regrettably, several fatalities, including the apparent murder of hostages, while others have been used as "human shields". Many other seafarers, even though their ship may not have been hijacked, have found themselves under armed attack and may have also been subject to a harrowing time locked in a citadel until released. Given these numerous concerns, a panindustry alliance of ship owners, unions, managers, manning agents, insurers and welfare associations (maritime, labour, faith or secular) has come together to establish the "Maritime Piracy: a Humanitarian Response Programme" (MPHRP). See our partners page.
The objectives of this programme address the three phases of "pre-, during and postincident", with the aim of implementing a model of assisting seafarers and their families with the humanitarian aspects of a traumatic incident caused by a piracy attack, armed robbery or being taken hostage.
The outcomes are anticipated to include:
- Guidelines on "good practice" for companies and seafarer welfare organisations on supporting seafarers and their family members through the three phases of a piracy incident from pre-deployment, during the crisis and post release/post incident.
- The development of relevant training modules.
- The development of an international network of trained first-responders with appropriate skills within partner and associated organisations.
- Access to a network of professional aftercare.
- The availability of a seafarers' telephone helpline.
- A resource to collect appropriate research/information and to make this available where further advice or assistance is sought.
The MPHR Programme therefore aligns fully with the IMO's theme for 2011, and for 2011 World Maritime Day, "Piracy – Orchestrating the Response", and in particular the sixth aim of the IMO action plan: "Provide care for those attacked or hijacked by pirates and for their families".
To implement a model for assisting seafarers and their families with the humanitarian aspects of a traumatic incident caused by piracy attack, armed robbery or being taken hostage to be offered as an integral part of the Emergency Response Procedures of shipping companies and manning agencies in cooperation with partners involved in seafarers' welfare (maritime, union, faith or secular based agencies), company representatives and other bodies as appropriate.