Hope for Crew

Negotiations for the release of the 22 crew members of the Malaysian ship MV Albedo, in the hands of  Somali pirates for over 18 months, have progressed to a new stage.

Hopes soar for ship crew

By Jamil Khan, The Gulf Today

DUBAI: For the 22 crew members of a Malaysian-origin ship MV Albedo, hijacked by Somali pirates, hopes to see their families after an 18-month ordeal soared as the negotiations reached a new stage to resolve the issue in the last 3-4 weeks.

This was stated by Ahmed Chinoy, chief of Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), Sindh, Pakistan, while talking to the media in Dubai on Wednesday.

Representing the families of kidnapped Pakistanis, Chenoy has been in touch with the local contacts of Somali pirates to finalise the safe return of the crew without any ransom.

The cargo ship carrying cement and other construction material left Jebel Ali port in Dubai in November 2010.

“After the long negotiations through Somali businessmen based in Dubai and tribal elders in Somalia, the pirates have agreed to return the captured crew members against the payment of $2.85 million as expenditure incurred on the hostages during the last 18 months,” Chinoy said

The amount was finalised as $50 per person per day on food and other commodities spent by the pirates for the hostages during the last 18 months.

“The money will be dropped at a ship in the deep sea before April 20 and the pirates will leave the ship MV Albedo with enough food and fuel to reach the nearest port safely. The ship is currently under the control of pirates somewhere in the Gulf of Aden,” he said.

“Earlier the pirates had demanded $10 million as ransom to free the crew and the ship. Now with the help of local Somali businessmen we are in contact with the pirates and their tribal committee has agreed to free the hostages against the payment of $2.85 million,” Chenoy said.

The pirates had contacted many times the wife of Pakistani captain Jawaid Saleem Khan in the last couple of months and threatened to kill the crew if they were unable to pay the ransom.

“We passed through a traumatic period as we were not able to arrange such a huge amount,” said Nareman Jawaid, the daughter of Captain Jawaid while talking to the media on Tuesday night at a local hotel in Dubai.

She has been working in Dubai as a consultant in a private firm for the last four years and sought the help of the Pakistani government many times on the issue last year.

She also held a meeting with visiting Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan who assured help to the families of the crew. She had also launched an online campaign.

“My mother is constantly in contact with other families. We are hoping to see our family members soon,” she said.

The Governor held meetings with the businessmen from India and Malaysia to raise funds to free the crew.

There were initially 23 crew members: seven Pakistanis, seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis, one Iranian and two Indians. One of the crew members from India died of cholera soon after the ship was hijacked.

The ship was captured by pirates in the Gulf of Aden and it is owned by a Malaysia-based person. He has denied paying any ransom as he was unable to meet the high demands of pirates.

Source: The Gulf Today

———————-   UPDATE  —————

Pirates agree to free Malaysian ship

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) – A Pakistani negotiator for a Malaysian-owned ship held by Somali pirates says he has reached agreement to free the crew in exchange for a ransom of almost US$3 million (S$3.7 million).

The pirates have been holding MV Albedo for more than a year.

Negotiator Ahmed Chenoy says they would free its 23 crew members after agreeing to a ransom payment of US$2.85 million. Chenoy did not say who would provide the money. He said it will be delivered to the pirates by plane by April 20.

The Kenya-bound ship was hijacked in November 2010 in the Gulf of Aden. Its crew members come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran.

Mr Chenoy is an official in Pakistan’s Sindh province. He said Wednesday he reached out to the ship’s hijackers through Dubai-based Somali merchants.

Source: Associated Press via Today Online

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