It’s more difficult to free hostages when they’re held without a vessel
THERE was some good news last week. On May 1, Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the crew of a small Danish dry-cargo ship, MV Leopard, had been freed after being held captive ashore for more than two years in Somalia by pirates.
On Jan 12, 2011, the Leopard was attacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Oman. Unable to secure the ship, they instead captured six hostages before escaping. The hostages were later transferred to an onshore pirate stronghold. Those were the days when Somali pirates were still succeeding in hijacking many ships.
The seafarers had been held for two years and four months in poor conditions with precious few opportunities for contact with the outside world. During this time, the UK-based Mission to Seafarers, among others, raised awareness about the crew’s plight by petitioning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark to hasten their release. The Mission to Seafarers also included the harrowing story as part of its piracy DVD, which it used to highlight the horrors of modern-day piracy to the general public.
Andrew Wright, secretary-general of The Mission to Seafarers said: “We welcome the release of the seafarers from MV Leopard. However whilst rejoicing in their reunion into society, we continue to remember and campaign for the seafarers who continue to be held. The recent efforts by the international community have reduced the number of attacks off the coast of Somalia; however that effort must be maintained if the problem is to be eradicated altogether.