Piracy off the Horn of Africa [April 19, 2010]   [open pdf - 728KB]

"Pirate attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought new U.S. and international attention to the long-standing problem of piracy in the region. According to the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center 217 attacks occurred in the waters off the Horn of Africa during 2009, with 47 successful hijackings. The IMB recorded 111 attacks in those waters in 2008, almost double the number in 2007. Attacks have been concentrated in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and the northern coast of Somalia and along Somalia's eastern coastline. However, in July 2009, the United Nations Secretary General warned that 'as a result of the military presence in the region, pirates have employed more daring operational tactics, operating further seawards, towards the Seychelles, and using more sophisticated weaponry.' […]. The Obama Administration has outlined its policy response and pledged to continue working through interagency and multilateral coordination and enforcement mechanisms established during the Bush Administration. Most experts believe that the reestablishment of government authority in Somalia is the only guarantee that piracy will not continue as a threat. The 111th Congress has explored a range of options to address both the threat posed by piracy as well as its underlying causes, and has sought to influence U.S. policy through oversight of U.S. military operations and diplomatic efforts and through defense and foreign assistance appropriations and authorizations."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40528
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