Five years ago 26 Asian sailor were kidnapped by Somali pirates and held captive in a small fishing village in Dabagala near the village of Harardhere. Last week they were finally released. The sailors — from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan — were seized near the Seychelles in March 2012, a time when pirate attacks were common in the area. They are considered to be the second longest-held hostages by Somali pirates.
The negotiation has been conducted with the lead of John Steed, coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners. Steed, a retired British army colonel regarded his mission to save the “forgotten hostages” in order to bring them home and hand them over to their embassies and their families.
There were originally 29 crew members but the captain was killed in the hijacking, while two others died from illness throughout their time in captivity. During their captivity the hostages had to face unbearable circumstances and were in deplorable conditions. One of the 26 captives, Arnel Balbero, said they had to eat anything they could get their hands on, including rats, and were given tiny amounts of water.
Piracy became a major danger to international shipping and interventions have been made by the UN, EU and NATO, while commercial vessels hired private armed guards aboard. According to Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) piracy caused delayed shipments and increased shipping expenses, costing the global economy between $5.7bn and $6.1bn in 2011.