Between 2000 and 2013, 2,919 seafarers were held hostage by Somali pirates in inhumane conditions, in some instances for years. On this Day of the Seafarers, we should remember those who have been denied their freedom while going about their daily work.
Many of those held hostage continue to deal with the lasting physical, economic, and emotional impacts years after the conclusion of their experience, preventing some from ever returning to work as seafarers.
The numbers of new attacks have been in decline, but much work remains.
Already this year, two Iranian fishing vessels with 48 sailors on board were captured and have yet to be released, the 26 crew of the fishing vessel Naham-3 remain in captivity over three years after the initial hijacking, and many local seafarers and fishermen continue to be victims of violent maritime crime.
Also, let’s remember those, through no fault of their own, that are stigmatised by others as being ‘Jonah’, or unlucky to have onboard, as they have been held by Somali pirates. They return to their home having received no or little pay for the time they were held in captivity. They have no avenue to claim compensation, or indeed sue the shipowner, the recruitment agency or even the flag state, and often receive the barest of assistance from their own country. There are exceptions but on the Day of the Seafarer, we should not forget those that have suffered in the name of the very industry that hugely supports the global economy with little herald, apart from today.
Watch the video by Oceans Beyond Piracy in collaboration with UNODC featuring retired UK Army Colonel, John Steed MBE, who has been instrumental in obtaining the freedom of many seafarers held hostage for many years:
We all thank seafarers for all their hard work at sea, and are thankful throughout the year.
Please see below other organisations that have supported seafarers, and those in trouble at sea, unstingingly.