ISWAN welcomes the news of the jailing of Somali pirate kingpin Mohamed Abdi Hassan in Belgium for 20 years for the hijacking of the Pompei, a Belgian flagged ship captured by pirates in April 2009. Two other Somali pirates are in jail in connection with the abduction of same ship, sentenced to nine and ten years.
At the time of release of the Pompei,12 other ships were held hostage in Somalia, with about 200 seafarers on board. It marked a time of terrible suffering for a large number of seafarers and their families. While numbers of hijacked ships peaked in Somalia at 49 ships in 2010, involving the captivity of over 800 seafarers, they have now significantly reduced. However, there remain in Somalia 26 seafarers from the Naham 3 who, on the 26 March 2016, will have been held by pirates for four years. Three seafarers from the original crew of 29 have died in captivity. 17 Iranian seafarers held captive in Somalia will also reach their first anniversary on 25 March.
The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) runs the humanitarian programme MPHRP which assists families of seafarers who are left without the presence of a son, husband or father, and as well without their wages. Funds donated for the support of the families by members of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia provides help for these families, as do other generous donors.
Tom Holmer, programme manager, said: “piracy has been a lucrative occupation for this man, but has spread misery, poverty and grief to seafarers and their families. Congratulations to the Belgian government for their work to obtain justice for seafarers.”