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U.N. urges nations to keep up prevention in Gulf of Guinea, world's flashpoint for piracy

Despite a steady decline in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea in recent years, nations must accelerate efforts to counter the region's nearly US$2 billion a year in losses, senior U.N. officials urged diplomats in charge of international security.

A Spanish patrol vessel conducts piracy exercises with Ghana's Navy in the Gulf of Guinea
A Spanish patrol vessel conducts piracy exercises with Ghana's Navy in the Gulf of Guinea (AN/OPV Furor)

Despite a steady decline in piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea in recent years, nations must accelerate efforts to counter the region's nearly US$2 billion a year in losses, senior United Nations officials urged diplomats in charge of international security.

Martha Pobee, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for political affairs, told the U.N. Security Council in New York that "it is still too early to draw definitive conclusions" about the recent drop in crime – and the dangers keeps evolving, requiring continued vigilance.

"Increased naval patrols by coastal states off the Gulf of Guinea and the regular deployment of naval assets by international partners have together successfully served as a deterrent," she said. "Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has, however, morphed over the last decade. Pirate groups are adapting to changing dynamics both at sea and in coastal areas."

Pobee said criminal networks may be shifting to less risky, more profitable schemes, and there's no evidence of any "linkages" between pirates and terrorists. But to fight both, she urged governments to focus on underlying causes such as youth unemployment and inadequate access to health, education and other basic services.

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