Yesterday, before a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Dr. Taieb Fassi Fihri in Washington, DC, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked about the Somali piracy situation. Secretary Clinton replied that the United States is “deeply concerned” and is following the situation very closely. She continued, “Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy.”
On Wednesday, hijackers off the coast of Somalia boarded the U.S.-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama. Armed hijackers boarded the vessel and took the captain of the crew hostage.
The coast of Somalia borders one of the world’s busiest and most important shipping lanes, and attacks by pirates in this area have increased over recent years. According to BBC News, the Maersk Alabama was the sixth ship seized off Somalia in the past week. The vessel was carrying relief aid, in the form of food, to East African countries.
The Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) has been working closely with governments and the maritime industry to address the growing crisis of piracy. Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarer’s Rights recently helped craft a resolution with the International Christian Maritime Association, which included a pledge to cooperate in accomplishing anti-piracy initiatives.
SCI monitors this and other incidences of piracy reported around the world, offering counsel and assistance to crews and families affected by attacks. “The Institute is deeply committed to ensure that the welfare of seafarers is protected,” said Stevenson. “This includes increasing awareness of the issue, advocating to international organizations for tough standards to reduce instances of hijacking, and reaching out to the affected victims of these hijackings.”
To learn more about the work of the Seamen’s Church Institute and the protection and care of seafarers, contact the Center for Seafarers’ Rights at firstname.lastname@example.org.