Danger for Workers in the Horn of Africa
The daring rescue Wednesday of two hostages being held by Somali pirates once again reminds us of the dangers of working offshore in the Horn of Africa. Though the American and Danish citizen were rescued without any casualties to the team of US special-forces dispatched to free them, experts say the raid is unlikely to deter future acts of maritime piracy. In fact, currently, an American journalist, a British tourist and a number of Indian, South Korean and Danish sailors, are still being held for ransom by other Somali pirates.
Why have the coastal waters of Africa, particularly off Somalia, become so dangerous? Many African nations whose waters are the least secure are in political turmoil. They can't prosecute pirates, and their citizens are often so poor that piracy is their best option. A Somali citizen's average annual income is just $650, where a single act of piracy could result in a significant ransom.
Making the problems even worse is the fact that companies operating in the area regularly fail to take necessary precautions to protect their workers. Since operating in Africa is already expensive, and there is a greater risk of losing vessels sent to the region, companies will send old ships in bad condition out for voyages, making them easy targets for pirates.
Even though there are obvious dangers to working offshore in Africa, there are so many job opportunities in the area, especially in oil and gas retrieval, that many workers are willing to take their chances. In 2011, there was an almost 50% increase in African offshore rig activity. But, says Kurt Arnold, an offshore injury lawyer with Arnold & Itkin in Houston, TX, "Workers should be cautious and know their rights. If you are injured in any way while working offshore, even in a foreign country, there are maritime laws that protect your rights." If you or someone you know have been injured in an offshore incident, contact an offshore attorney from Arnold & Itkin today for a free consultation on your legal rights.