The government of Seychelles has condemned “in the strongest terms” the recent pirate attacks on the civilian cargo vessel Rwabee off the coast of Hodeidah, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.
Seychelles has also called for the immediate release of the vessel and its crew and urged all parties to abide by international laws and seek peaceful ways to resolve the conflict.
“Seychelles has long been at the forefront of the fight against piracy in the western Indian Ocean, and therefore, we are deeply disturbed by the recent attacks on the UAE-flagged vessel in the Red Sea,” said the statement.
“In addition to the grave threats to freedom of maritime navigation and international trade, such blatant acts jeopardise regional security and place the protection of the region’s citizens at risk,” it added.
On January 3, Houthi rebels hijacked the ship 25 nautical miles west of the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. Of the 11 crew onboard, 7 are from India. The Indian government has said it is making all efforts to secure their swift release.
Seychelles took the lead in the fight against piracy in the region in 2008, when the security threat began expanding and adversely impacted the nation’s tourism and fishing industries, the top pillars of its economy.
The need for more collaboration in the region was highlighted between 2008-2012, the period where Somali piracy threats were at a peak in the Indian Ocean, and 21 states in the region decided to collaborate through the Djibouti Code of Conduct agreement in 2009.
Collaboration is especially important for Seychelles with a vast Economic Exclusive Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres, which makes maritime surveillance a challenge.
Since then, Seychelles has been working with international partners and is hosting the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre For Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS3) at Bois De Rose. The centre was set up in 2014 to play an integral role in anti-piracy efforts and countering drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean region.