Stella Maris has signed up to the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy, demonstrating its commitment to eradicating the scourge of piracy.
Stella Maris International Network Director Fr Bruno Ciceri, who is based in the Vatican, signed the Declaration on behalf of the charity.
“We fully support the efforts by all parties in the fight against piracy. It is unacceptable that seafarers, unsung heroes who keep world trade moving, continue to be subjected to pirate attacks. Aside from disrupting the global economy, the persistent threat of danger and harm puts considerable stress on seafarers and their families,” said Fr Bruno.
The Declaration was drafted in response to growing concerns and increasing attacks in the region and has been signed by organisations across the maritime industry including flag state administrations, ship owners, charterers, and shipping associations.
The Gulf of Guinea accounted for nearly half (43 percent) of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau. The region accounted for all 40 kidnapped crew incidents, as well as the sole crew fatality.
In 2020, Stella Maris chaplains supported seafarers in three piracy cases, providing vital pastoral care to the crew members affected by the attacks.
In one case in Lagos, Nigeria, the charity’s chaplains boarded a ship following an attack at sea to meet with the crew members.
The crew had been left extremely traumatised, and the support provided by Stella Maris helped allay their fears and anxieties.
Stella Maris hopes governments and enforcement agencies will be able to find a more permanent and long-term solution to the problem of piracy and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We urge hijacked seafarers and fishers not to lose hope that they will be soon reunited with their loved ones and to remain strong in their faith. Families of the hijacked seafarers and fishers can also contact us for assistance and support.”
“We encourage the faithful to pray to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, to protect seafarers and fishers from all dangers and to support those who have been, and continue to be, affected by piracy,” said Fr Bruno.