Somali piracy: Last three hostages freed but threat still exists
Somalia pirates have freed the last three of the 3,639 hostages held in captivity over the past five years.
The three had been working on an Iranian fishing vessel, FV Siraj, when it was hijacked off the coast of Hobyo, Somalia in March 2015. They are now on their way home after completing tests for Covid-19 and undergoing other medical checks.
In a letter dated 15 September, the Chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) expressed relief over the release; made possible due to the intervention of the Hostage Support Partners (HSP).
“Their continuous pro-bono support and negotiations with Somalia pirates and other key stakeholder, over the years led to freeing of the remaining crew members.”
HSP also facilitated the release of the fourth member of the FV Siraj in 2019 for urgent medical care.
CGPCS also commended the role played by charity International Seafarers’ And Assistance Network (ISWAN) which provided assistance through the CGPCS’ Piracy Survivors Fund in supporting the families of hostages during difficult periods of captivity and upon returning home.
International Maritime Bureau (IMB) welcomes the good news. However, it warns that ships still need to be alert and remain vigilant and not get complacent when transiting Somalia waters as the threat of attacks still exists.
Navies need to have continued presence in the region to have a stabilising effect IMB says.
Vessels are urged to continue implementing BMP5 recommended practices while transiting these waters. Somali pirates still maintain the capability for carrying out attacks.
No attacks were reported off Somalia in 2019 and up to June 2020. In 2018 three vessels were reported being fired upon in the region.