The Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) have agreed on the establishment of a Cameroon-based interregional center to fight piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, a hotspot for violent piracy and ship hijacking for many years.
"The organizations took a new step towards the implementation of the strategy to combat piracy, armed robbery and other illicit activities in their common maritime space," they said in a statement late Saturday at the end of a one-day, high-level meeting in Senegal.
"They have established an interregional working group, which will be in charge of developing the cooperation and coordination mechanisms and adopted its terms of reference, budget and working plan for 2013-2014," added the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Anadolu Agency.
With the support of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), the meeting brought together Kadre Désiré Ouedraogo, president of the ECOWAS, Pierre Garcia Babouma, deputy secretary-general of ECCAS, Florentina Adenike Ukonga, deputy executive secretary of the Commission of Gulf of Guinea and Abou Moussa, head of the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).
"The scourges of piracy, terrorism, extremism and banditry at sea as well as other organized crimes affecting our common maritime domain are, in combination with other factors, threatening our collective security," said Ouedraogo, who chaired the meeting.
"Our presence is a clear illustration of our commitment to address these challenges in pursuit of the collective interest of our respective regions," he added.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), more than 40 piracy attacks were registered in the first three quarters of 2013, with 132 crew taken hostage and seven vessels hijacked.
The Gulf of Guinea accounted for all crew kidnappings worldwide, 32 of them off Nigeria and two off Togo, the IMB said.
The Dakar meeting was a follow-up to a summit on maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea held on June 24-25.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has encouraged regional countries to do more to fight piracy and armed robbery against ships in West and Central Africa.
AALast Mod: 27 Ekim 2013, 11:05