The crew of an Omani-flagged fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on 26th March 2012 have finally been released.
The Naham 3’s crew is made up of Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian. Philippino, Taiwanese and Vietnamese nationals and the 29-man crew found themselves captives when the vessel was intercepted 65 nautical miles south of the Seychelles.
One crewman lost his life during the hijacking and two more died during their long captivity. The surviving crew have at last been released after four and a half years in captivity, initially on the vessel itself and later ashore when Naham 3 sank a year after its hijacking.
‘We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew,’ said John Steed, co-ordinator of the Hostage Support Partners (HSP) for Oceans Beyond Piracy.
‘They are currently in the safe hands of the Galmudug authorities and will be repatriated using a UN Humanitarian flight shortly and then on to their home countries. They are reported to be in reasonable condition considering their ordeal. They are all malnourished. Four are currently receiving medical treatment by a Doctor in Galcayo. They have spent over four and a half years in deplorable conditions away from their families.’
‘I would like to thank the efforts of our Partners, the Galmudug authorities and the local community who made this release possible. In particular, the efforts of Mr Leslie Edwards of Compass Risk Management who has spent the last 18 months negotiating this release, and the work of Holman Fenwick Willan LLP, should be applauded.’
The crew of the Naham 3 were held for 1672 days. They are the second longest held hostages by Somali pirates after the four hostages of the Prantalay 12, released last year by the HSP.
Despite their release their journey is not over, as the crew will still experience effects from their captivity for years to come. The crew will need comprehensive physical and psychological support in the years to come to help ease their return to a normal life, the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) is stood by to help in this process.
The release of the Naham 3 crew represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy. While overall numbers are down in the Western Indian Ocean, the OBP State of Piracy study found that in 2015, pirates in the region attacked at least 306 seafarers. The threat of piracy remains and the shipping industry is encouraged to continue to follow Best Management Practice 4 to mitigate against the risks of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean.
According to HSP, while there has not been a successful attack on a commercial vessel since 2012, there have been a number of attacks on fishing vessels and there remains a number of hostages still held in Somalia; ten Iranians from the Siraj (taken in 2015), three Kenyan kidnap victims (including a sick lady) remain in the hands of pirates and a number of AMISOM soldiers remain captives of Al Shabaab.
Additionally the HSP tracks a number of people who were kidnapped and are still missing after several years, including Dr Murray Watson, Patrick Amukhuma and Dheeraj Tiwari.