A notable milestone has been reached in East Africa following the announcement that there were no more hostages being held by Somali pirates.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said last week that the freeing of three crew members of a Iranian registered fishing vessel meant that no hostages were now being held in Somalia. The three were working on FV Siraj when it was hijacked off Hobyo, Somalia in March 2015. They were now on their way home, having completed Covid-19 tests and other medical checks.
The Chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) said that the release in September was made possible by the intervention of Hostage Support Partners (HSP). “Their continuous pro-bono support and negotiations with Somali pirates and other stakeholders over the years led to the release of the remaining crew members,” CGPCS said.
CGPCS also commended the role of the International Seafarers’ and Assistance Network (ISWAN), which provided assistance through the CGPCS’ piracy survivors fund to support families of hostages during periods of captivity and on returning home.
Although the IMB welcomed the release, it warned ships that they still needed to be alert and vigilant. They should not become complacent when transiting Somali waters, as the threat of attacks still existed, said the IMB, adding that navies needed to maintain a presence in the region.
Vessels are urged to continue implementing BMP5 recommended practices when they were transiting the waters off the Horn of Africa. No attacks were reported off Somalia last year, nor were any reported in the first six month of 2020.