Roy Paul

Poverty eradication is a panacea to piracy

On the sidelines of the recent two-daySub-Regional Awareness Seminar and Training on Maritime Piracy – A Humanitarian Response for West and Central Africa, hosted by the National Seafarers Welfare Board of Nigeria (NSWVN) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Manager, Maritime Piracy: a Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) team International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Seafarers Trust, London, Mr. Roy Paul, spoke to Obianuju Ozoeze on the welfare of seafarers and how governments of different countries can combat piracy. 

What are the objectives of the MPHRP programme?
The objective of the programme is 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.

What link does the programme have with the National Seafarers Board of Nigeria?
We are partners and have to work together. MPHRP is a London based organisation but we are wide and so we rely very much on our local partners. The National Seafarer Welfare Board is very important and is very strong in Nigeria. It works as part of the international community on seafarers’ welfare and they are partners in our programme so they are linked with our programme. We are really concerned with welfare of the seafarers and this is pertinent. When you speak to most people outside the maritime industry they don’t understand what the problem piracy is to seafarers and how it affects them and their families.

Do you really think piracy can be tackled and successfully brought to an end? 
Combating piracy is a big task and that is going to be done by the government. The government has to take action on Somalia, for instance, by trying to relieve some of the poverty that is there because it is the poverty that is leading people to do this. Sadly it’s a source of greed because there are lots of people in the world who are poor but they don’t turn to crime. These people have turned to crime. And so the tackling or combating of privacy is something which the governments have to do.

I suppose this means that seafarers would always be victimized by pirates?
It’s a bad situation but if you look at the fact that they are 1.2 million seafarers worldwide, we think about four thousand of those have been affected in the last five years. So, in fact the chances of being caught by pirates are very small but once you are caught obviously it’s quite a difficult time. This seminar is aimed at the shipping companies, the manning agents, and the industry; to ask them to set aside a day just to think about piracy and to talk about the planning they can do to make sure their company is ready. So, if though one of their ships or some of their crew is taken they can respond because their families need quick support. At the moment there are four Nigerians held on board the Grace Royal, for example, a ship which was taken few months ago so those families need help and support.

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