Freed So­mali pi­rates hostages ‘ate rats’

Group be­lieved to be some of the last sailors un­der cap­tiv­ity

The Star (Kenya) - - News World -

BBC/ A group of sailors who were held hostage by So­mali pi­rates for nearly five years sur­vived in part by eat­ing rats, one sur­vivor has told the BBC.

Filipino sailor Ar­nel Bal­bero said they were also only given small amounts of wa­ter and felt like “the walk­ing dead” by the end of their or­deal. The 26 sailors were seized on board their ship in 2012 and were even­tu­ally taken to So­ma­lia.

They were freed on Satur­day, re­port­edly af­ter a ran­som was paid.

The sailors were from China, the Philip­pines, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Viet­nam and Tai­wan. Bal­bero was among the crew of the FV Na­ham 3 when it was cap­tured by So­mali pi­rates south of the Sey­chelles.

One crew mem­ber was killed dur­ing the cap­ture, ac­cord­ing to non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Oceans Be­yond Piracy. A year later, the ship sank and the crew were brought on­shore in So­ma­lia. Two sailors sub­se­quently died of ill­nesses.

Bal­bero told the BBC the last four and a half years had left him and his com­pa­tri­ots “like walk­ing dead”.

Asked how the pi­rates treated them, he said: “They give us small amount of wa­ter only... We eat rat. Yes, we cook it in the for­est ... [We] just eat any­thing, any­thing. You feel hun­gry, you eat.”

Bal­bero also spoke of their dif­fi­cul­ties ad­just­ing to life af­ter their or­deal, say­ing: “I don’t know what is... out­side of this world when this fin­ish, so it’s very hard to start again.”

The group are be­lieved to be some of the last re­main­ing cap­tives held by So­mali pi­rates, af­ter a wave of hi­jack­ings in the mid-2000s.

Piracy off the coast of So­ma­lia, usu­ally for ran­som, has re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly in re­cent years, in part be­cause of ex­ten­sive in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary pa­trols of the most vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas.

REUTERS

Some of the 26 Asian sailors re­leased af­ter be­ing held cap­tives by So­ma­lia pi­rates for more than four years be­come emo­tional as they ar­rive at the Jomo Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sun­day/

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