File photo shows M/V Iceberg 1 before the hijacking.
The Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) Douglas B. Stevenson, Director of SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights, recently sat down with former hostages from the MV Iceberg 1 in Accra, Ghana to hear about their experiences and how they find life two years after their release from Somali pirates.
The Panama-flagged MV Iceberg I was hijacked by pirates in March 29, 2010 while sailing off the coast of Yemen with 24 crewmembers.
After the hijacking, the pirates sailed the ship back to the Somali coast where they held the crew for 2 years and 9 months, the longest any crew has been held by Somali pirates. The hostages were only freed during a raid by the Puntland Marine Police Force in December 2012 after having been abandoned by the shipowner, Dubai-based Azul Shipping, which had gone out of business shortly after the initial hijacking.
Unfortunately for the hostages, however, their captivity and release from the pirate hellhole was just part of the story.
In the series of interviews, crewmembers from the Iceberg I speak of the incidents with unambiguous detail, including the torture, starvation, violence and abandonment faced at the hands of Somali pirates and the challenges they continue to face almost two years after their release.
SCI also reminds us that although the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia has decreased since 2011, seafarers and their families continue to deal with the aftermath of hijackings. The men from the Iceberg 1 number among the over 5,000 seafarers pirates have captured and held hostage since 2007.
To this day, SCI notes that the question “What happens to seafarers after pirate attacks?” remains largely unanswered. While SCI has attempted to bring this problem to light for many years, many seafarers find little help and recourse years after the incidents and how they cope with life post-piracy and what care they receive when repatriated remains largely undocumented.
The full series of interviews with the MV Iceberg 1 crew and other piracy survivors can be found on YouTube at http://smschur.ch/sep14voices or you can scroll through the playlist below.
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