Piracy and armed robbery is one of the foremost threats facing the international
shipping community today, be it off Somalia, in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf
of Guinea, the South China Sea or elsewhere.
Despite numerous diplomatic, military and other initiatives by many governments and
governmental agencies., particularly in the Indian Ocean, and the protective
measures and other actions adopted by shipowners, ship-managers and their
representatives, ships are regularly attacked and seafarers put at risk as they go
about their legitimate business in international waters.
While acknowledging the actions of governments, the United Nations and the
International Maritime Organisation, the shipping industry has recognised that more
needs to be done to support seafarers and their families. Nearly five thousand
seafarers have been hijacked in recent years and detained for months in frequently
appalling conditions, while thousands of others have been the victims of a pirate
attack. Every day of the year more than one hundred thousand seafarers experience
the anxiety while sailing in or towards piracy infected waters while their families
share these worries, frequently with a feeling of helplessness.
Seafarers naturally play a pivotal role in any piracy incident and the appropriate
preparations are integral to their well-being, as well as ultimately also their
families, and to the overall outcome of the incident.
Recognising the above, partner organisations representing shipowners, ship-managers,
manning agents, unions, insurers and welfare associations, together with
intergovernmental organisations joined together to establish the Maritime Piracy -
Humanitarian Response Programme.
The programme has been built around:
* a task group of multi-disciplined, international experts,
* extensive fact finding and the feedback gained from first-hand meetings and
interviews with seafarers and families worldwide, including many with first hand
experience of attacks and hijackings,
* advisory groups on industry practices and procedures, pre-deployment piracy
training and the skills required of responders, and
* the advice and assistance of a project steering group.
In its first phase the programme is developing:
* "good practice" guides for use by shipping companies, manning agents and welfare
associations to support both seafarers and seafarers' families through the three
phases of a piracy incident from pre-departure, during the crisis and post
* associated training modules,
* an international network of trained first-responders with appropriate skills
within Partner and associated organisations,
* access to a network of professional aftercare,
* a 24 hour seafarer's international telephone helpline
Our shared concern for the well-being and welfare of seafarers and their families
before, during and after a piracy or armed robbery attack underpins the work of the
programme and the commitment of the partners.