Sailors’ Society to Aid Seafarers Affected by Piracy in Africa

Southampton-based seafarer support charity Sailors’ Society has launched a Crisis Response Centre in Durban, South Africa, to support seafarers affected by piracy.

Durban-based facility will provide 24-hour response and trauma counselling for survivors of piracy attacks and other disasters at sea throughout South Africa, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique and Reunion.

The recent Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) report on the State of Maritime Piracy reported that at least 5,000 seafarers were attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, the Western Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia in 2014, and drew attention to West Africa noting that “Gulf of Guinea piracy continues at unacceptable levels.”

Research by OBP found that seafarers could exhibit symptoms similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder while simply passing through areas at high risk of piracy.

Sailors’ Society’s sub-Saharan network of port chaplains have undertaken the Traumatic Incident Response (TIR) and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) Welfare Responders’ courses in order to be equipped to provide appropriate and effective care.

The service will reach traumatised crews by flying in a mobile call-out team to assist local chaplains to care for victims of piracy and other incidents at sea in the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Guinea ports. Chaplains will liaise with other welfare and emergency agencies to ensure a joined-up service.

The Crisis Response Centre, situated at Sailors’ Society South Africa’s headquarters in Westville, Durban, will also conduct research into the continuing activities of pirates on the east and west coastlines of Africa and deliver ongoing trauma care training for chaplains.

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