UN: UN officials welcome release by Somali pirates of longest-held hostages

New York, US (PANA) - Senior UN officials have welcomed the release this week of four
Thai nationals after nearly five years in captivity, bringing an end to the longest held
hostage ordeal in the East African nation, thanks to a mission carried out by the UN anti-crime

A UN statement on Friday in New York said the mission to recover the hostages was
conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), funded by the Contact Group
for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia’s Trust Fund.

It said the crew, all Thai nationals, of the FV Prantalay 12 vessel, who were taken at sea
by Somali pirates on 18 April 2010, were released on Wednesday by their captors into
the hands of the Somali Regional Administration in Galmudug.

The FV Prantalay 12, a Taiwanese flagged fishing vessel, was used by the pirates as a
'mother ship' before it eventually capsized in July 2011.

The remaining crew were then taken ashore.

The statement noted that, of the original 24 crew members, six succumbed to illness at
various stages of captivity, and 14 Myanmar crew members were released to the Puntland
Maritime Police authorities and were repatriated by the UNODC’s Hostage Support
Programme in May 2011.

It said that while this is indeed good news, many more hostages remain in the hands
of Somali pirates and a further 26 hostages are currently being held, having been
abducted from the FV Naham 3.

The UNODC Hostage Support Programme is also supporting these victims in similar
ways such as contact, proof of life and occasional medical visits funded by the Oceans
Beyond Piracy.

A UNODC spokesperson said: "We are extremely relieved to have obtained the release
of these four Thai hostages, but let us not forget the remaining 26 Asian crew still
being held in Somalia."

"They need to be returned home to their families. We are striving to make that happen,"
the spokesperson said.

The UNODC official who was not identified by name, said: "I am hugely grateful to the
Galmudug state officials who conducted this mission. They put their lives at risk to bring
these poor crewmen home after nearly five long years."

Meanwhile, Mr. Nicholas Kay, the UN Special Representative in Somalia and head of the
UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNSOM), said: "I am grateful to see the longest
held hostages released from Somalia, and thank all those involved who made it happen,
especially the regional authorities in Galmudug."
-0- PANA   AA/AR 27Feb2015

27 february 2015 19:18:49

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