Lampung (Indonesia), Dec 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) piracy programme has led to a significant cut in pirate attacks and seizures of ships, according to its executive director Yury Fedotov.
"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
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.
Russia keeps a naval task force in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.