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Dhaka in touch with all for safe release of seven nationals from Somalia

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Authorities concerned in Malaysia were approached as the ship owner is a Malaysian national.

Bangladesh has remained actively engaged with all concerned, both at home and abroad, for the speedy and safe release of the seven Bangladeshi crew members, now detained in Somalia, but no government in principle can pay ransom.

“As regard to payment of ransom to the kidnappers, as a matter of principle, no government, including the government of Bangladesh, can pay ransom to any such case of piracy,” the foreign ministry said in a note of clarification on Saturday, reports UNB.

In addition to the series of steps taken by the ministry to get them released, it has been continuously maintaining communications through informal channels with relevant authorities, including Maritime Piracy and Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) based in London, it said.

The seven Bangladeshi crew members, who were held hostage, were on board before the Malaysian flag vessel MV Albedo sank on July 7 off the coast of Somalia.

“The ministry duly recognises the concern, especially of the relatives of the Bangladesh nationals, but at the same time finds it appropriate to put the matter in true perspective,” the note said.

It said Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni took up the matter as a priority issue and gave instructions to all concerned for safe release of the Bangladeshi crews. “She herself sought all-out support of the Secretary General, International Maritime Organization (IMO).”

It has been primarily confirmed through Maritime Piracy and Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) based in London, quoting sources in the UN Office for Somalia, Nairobi, that the seven Bangladeshi crew members are alive and have now been shifted to another hijacked fishing vessel.

Authorities concerned in Malaysia were approached as the ship owner is a Malaysian national.

The High Commissioner of Malaysia in Dhaka was also called at the Ministry and she was requested to use their good offices.

The Bangladesh High Commission in Nairobi was also instructed to maintain close liaison with the UN Office. The Ministry also sought the support of the MPHRP so that they can make efforts to convince the Malaysian Government in this regard.

On Ministry’s specific request, a team from MPHRP visited Kuala Lumpur and had a meeting with the officials of the National Security Council of Malaysia where a representative from the Bangladesh High Commission was also present along with the officials from the Missions of India and Sri Lanka .

Following a series of meetings and interactions with the Malaysian side, Malaysian authorities informed that they were unable to use their good offices as the Malaysian owner had already abandoned the ship.

A team from the MPHRP was also invited to Bangladesh to share their perspective to get the crews released in particular and to familiarise with possible strategies to meet such emergencies, in general.

On the Ministry’s initiative, the team members also visited the family members of the abducted crew members. Following the Ministry’s request, the organization has been paying US$ 200 dollar per month to four needy families of the hostages. The issue being extremely sensitive and having a humanitarian aspect, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is keeping close contacts with all concerned for the speedy release and safe return of Bangladeshi crews to the country, the clarification said. 

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