There are hundreds more seafarers incarcerated by pirates in often dreadful conditions
Speaking in support of the campaign by the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Maritime Union of India (MUI) to secure the release of the crew of the Stolt Valor, which was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton commented: ?We have asked our colleagues in India to raise our concerns alongside their own in their meeting with the Indian foreign and shipping ministers. Like them we are concerned for the wellbeing of these men and hoping for a speedy release.?
He added: ?We will not forget either that there are hundreds more seafarers incarcerated by pirates in often dreadful conditions, in fear and danger. We would like to forcibly remind governments that it is well past time for them to free up their navies and let them tackle these criminals, as authorised by United Nations Resolutions that explicitly call ? as does the entire shipping industry ? for real action.?
He continued: ?Limited patrolling is good as far as it goes, but the claims that it"s too difficult to find the pirates or prove what they"re up to ring increasingly hollow when their three motherships are well known and when the smaller boats they"re deploying and are also operating from shore are packed with AK47s, RPKs and RPGs.?
He concluded: ?Both the IMO and the UN have listened to us and our counterparts on the employers" side of the shipping industry and have agreed that it"s time to act - in the way some navies have already done. All it needs now is for governments to allow the naval units in the Gulf to intercept and make arrests. If some of them remain blind to the plight of seafarers then perhaps they will take notice when shipping has to be diverted away from these pirate-infested waters and around the Cape of Good Hope ? increasing voyage times by up to three weeks and adding delays and increased costs to food, oil, raw materials and Christmas consumer goods at a time when economies are already facing downturn.?