Pirates have kidnapped 11 Filipino sailors during separate incidents in waters off the West African nations of Togo and Benin, the Philippine government said Monday.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a brief statement that two Filipino sailors had been abducted in Togo following reports about “nine others who were captured in Benin last week.”
“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through its Embassy in Abuja, received a report of another piracy incident in West Africa that resulted in the kidnapping of two more Filipino seafarers somewhere in Togo,” the department said.
“This brings to 11 the total number of kidnapped Filipino seafarers in West Africa.”
The statement did not give precise dates for when the sailors were seized. According to Reuters news service, two Filipinos, a Greek and a Georgian national were kidnapped Nov. 4 when pirates attacked the Elka Aristotle, a Greek oil tanker, off Togo’s coast.
Two days earlier, pirates made off with nine other Filipino crew members from a Norwegian-flagged boat off Benin’s coast, the news service reported. Armed guards were aboard the Greek tanker and tried to fend off the pirates but one of the guards was wounded, Reuters quoted the Togo navy as saying.
“The Philippine government is actively tracking the development of the case with the Embassy in Abuja [Nigeria], continuing its coordination with relevant authorities to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino seafarers. Moreover, the DFA maintains close contact with the seafarers’ manning agency and will provide updates, as necessary,” Manila’s foreign office said.
About a 10th of the Philippines’ population of about 108 million live and work abroad, the bulk of whom are seafarers, laborers and maids. Many end up abroad without proper documentation, making them vulnerable to human traffickers.