Thursday, March 29, 2012
Nearly 17 months after the cargo ship MV Albedo was hijacked by
Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the ordeal of its 21 surviving crew
members seems to be coming to an end, as the pirates and families of the
crew come to a deal.
Although, no ransom is being paid, the representatives of the
families, led by senior political leaders from Pakistan have
successfully negotiated with the pirates to pay the expenses incurred by
them over the past 17 months.
The pirates had initially demanded a ransom of $10 million
(Dh36.7 million), which the owner declined to pay and the families
"We have been in contact with the pirates through the tribal
leaders of Somalia for the past several months and we made it clear to
them that we are unable to pay the ransom, but we have agreed to pay the
expenses incurred by them over the last 17 months," said Ahmad Chinoy,
Chief of the Citizens Police Liaison Committee in Sindh, Pakistan, who
has been at the forefront of negotiations.
Chinoy along with the Governor of Sindh provice of Pakistan Dr
Ishratul Ebad Khan and other senior leaders of Pakistan are to negotiate
a deal through a Dubai-based Somali businessman, whose name was not
revealed and tribal leaders in Somalia.
The two parties finally agreed on $50 per person per day as the expenses incurred by the pirates.
"Since the court of tribal elders ruled against the pirates and
against paying any ransom, it forced them to ask for expenses as a last
resort and finally we have reached on the figure of $50 per person per
day. Considering around 100 people stayed on the ship for the entire
period, the amount totals $2.85 million (Dh10.45 million)," said Dr
Khan, speaking to Gulf News in Dubai on Tuesday.
Although the agreement has raised hopes of the families finally
seeing their loved ones, there is still one obstacle to be overcome —
arranging the amount and transferring it to the pirates within the April
"So far we have no money but I hope we will be able to raise the
funds as a lot people have shown interest in supporting our efforts and I
hope more people will come forward," said Dr Khan, urging people to
help raise the amount.
Nareman Javaid, the daughter of the vessel's captain Javaid
Saleem, who has been active in rallying support to get the ship and its
crew released also met the Governor on Tuesday and thanked him for his
Talking to Gulf News, following the meeting, Javaid said: "It has
been the most difficult time for the families, many of them struggled
to make ends meet without their sole breadwinners. We sincerely hope
this deal will come through and hopefully we will be able to raise the
agreed amount within the deadline."
Javaid last communicated with her father when she received an email from him saying the ship was being chased by the pirates.
"I can't wait to see him," was her only reaction to the news of her father's likely release in a month's time.
The cargo vessel was hijacked following a Hollywood-style chase on November 26, 2010.
Since then, one crew member, an Indian, has died from cholera.
While the others, seven Pakistanis including the captain, seven Sri
Lankans, six Bangladeshis and one Iranian have survived the ordeal, each
losing 20kg to 30kg.
The pirates have agreed to refuel the ship and provide the supplies and provisions to reach the closest port.