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LAMPUNG, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) piracy program has led to a significant cut in pirate attacks and seizures of ships, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said on Tuesday.
“If in 2011 ransom payments totalled nearly $150 million, in the first 11 months of this year they were a mere $35 million,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
There are 1,200 sea pirates behind bars across the world, including 870 who are serving their sentences in piracy-infested East Africa, he said.
A new element in the UNODC’s activity has been the struggle against the laundering of the proceeds from ransom payments, Fedotov said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon previously said ransom payments cost hundreds of millions of dollars, creating a “pirate economy” in areas of Somalia that make them more resistant to efforts to developing alternative livelihoods.
A recent study estimated the cost of piracy to the world economy from disruption to international trade at between $7 billion and $12 billion.
In February 2011 the United Nations launched an action plan to combat piracy off the Somali coast, calling for greater support from national navies to fight a “global menace” that threatens not only international trade but the world body’s delivery of vital food aid to millions of hungry people.
The UNODC Counter-Piracy Program, based in Nairobi, Kenya, is aiding efforts to help deal with suspected pirates who have been caught in the region, with an approach centered on three main objectives: fair and efficient trials and imprisonment in regional centers; humane and secure imprisonment in Somalia; and fair and efficient trials in Somalia.
Russia keeps a naval task force in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.
Russian warships have successfully escorted hundreds of commercial vessels from various countries through Somali coastal waters since 2008, when Russia joined the international anti-piracy mission in the region.
According to latest UN reports, pirates carried out 291 attacks and hijackings in the first 10 months of 2012, taking at least 293 hostages.
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