IMB 2012 piracy map. Orange = actual attack. Yellow = attempted attack. Via IMB Piracy Reporting Center

IMB 2012 piracy map. Orange = actual attack. Yellow = attempted attack. Via IMB Piracy Reporting Center

The European Commission on Thursday announced a new €4.5 million EU initiative aimed at combatting piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The new project, called the Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea Programme or CRIMGO for short, is expected to help governments across West and Central Africa boost the safety and security of the main shipping routes through the piracy-prone region by providing training for coastguards and establishing a network to share information between countries and agencies.

The project will be rolled starting this month in 7 African coastal states including Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Sâo Tomé and Principe and Togo.

According to the European Commission, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for approximately 13% of oil and 6% of gas imports to the EU. However, piracy and armed robbery, as well as drug, arms and human trafficking, pose a real threat to the security in the region. In Nigeria alone, some 98 cases of piracy, armed robbery at sea and marine pollution were recorded between 2008 and 2012.

The region suffers from a lack of coordination between coastguards, as well as between regions, and there is also currently no common standard for maritime trainin and weak conditions for information sharing between the countries involved.

The €4.5 million for the CRIMGO project will be provided under the EU’s “Instrument for Stability,” a strategic tool that links security and development with objective of supporting measures aimed at safeguarding or re-establishing the conditions under which the partner countries of the EU can pursue their long term development goals.

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