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Seychelles calls for action against pirates

(Xinhua)

13:25, February 22, 2012

LONDON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Two Seychelles officials Tuesday called for more concerted international action to tackle piracy in the Indian Ocean.

The call was made by Seychelles Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam and Minister for Home Affairs Joel Morgan, who are here to attend the London Conference on Somalia organized by the British government.

Morgan said in a speech that Seychelles, a small, developing island nation in the Indian Ocean, has been particularly threatened by the growing threat of pirate activity originating from Somalia.

"The continuation of piracy off the coast of Somalia is in effect holding the world to ransom," Morgan said.

Somalia occupies much of the coastline of the Horn of Africa jutting into the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

"The Indian Ocean is an important artery for world trade with two thirds of its shipped oil, half of its shipping, one third of its bulk cargo, passing through its water," said Morgan.

The number of successful piracy attacks has declined, but at the same time the ransoms have increased, to 100 million U.S. dollars in total in 2011, he said. In addition, the number of hostages has also risen, to 166 in 2011.

Seychelles has felt vulnerable to piracy as it relies on the ocean to communicate and trade with the world. In 2010, the islands nearly ran out of fuel for cooking after a liquefied natural gas tanker bound for the country was hijacked.

Morgan said that laws changed in 2010, "enabling swift and effective justice against captured pirates."

However, the key bottleneck is detention capacity, Adam said. There was a pressing need for "appropriate internationally-monitored prison facilities in Somalia" to receive convicted pirates to serve their sentences, added.

The conference, to open on Thursday, has attracted delegations from more than 50 nations and organizations globally, including the United Nations.

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