The International Transport Federation (ITF) informs that 11 seafarers held hostage by Somali pirates for over three and a half years have finally been released, with the prospect of seeing their families once more after what is described as a 'terrible ordeal'.
The seven Bangladeshi, two Sri Lankan, one Indian and one Iranian hostage were among the 23 crew on the Malaysian-owned and flagged containership Albedo when it was hijacked by Somali pirates on 26 November 2010 while 900 nautical miles off Somalia. One Indian seafarer died in captivity, and seven Pakistani crew members were released in July 2012.
With the remaining hostages still on board and held captive in Somali waters, the Albedo became increasingly unseaworthy and sank in a heavy storm in July 2013. The 11 hostages now released were then taken ashore, but the fate of four Sri Lankan crew members following the storm is not known.
Welcoming the release and safe return of the remaining crew after 1,288 days in captivity, Peter Swift, chair of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) also extended the organisation's thoughts to the families of the Indian hostage who died in captivity and the four missing Sri Lankan seafarers.
The MPHRP points out that nearly 40 seafarers and fishers are still held hostage in Somalia, all for more than two years – some for over four years – and has called for efforts to release these captives.