Over 50 Filipinos are still being held captive by Somali pirates

2011.1.24-PIRATIS.jpgPiracy off the coast of Somalia in the easternmost part of Africa is a major concern for Filipino seamen, who comprise nearly 30 percent of all the seafarers around the world. According to Reuters data, over 50 Filipinos are still being held captive by Somali pirates. However, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs had said around 78 Filipino seafarers are with the pirates.

Philippine government data shows that there are around 300,000 Filipino seafarers, comprising around 30 percent of an estimated 1.2 million seafarers worldwide.

Reuters said the captive Filipinos belonged to the following ships:

  • Liberian-owned "Polar,"
  • Algeria-flagged "Blida,"
  • Panama-flagged "Dover," and
  • Italian-owned "Rosalia D'Amato."

Piracy incidents

POLAR

This vessel was seized on October 30, 2010. The Liberian-owned, Panama-flagged 72,825-tonne tanker seized 580 miles east of Socotra. Its crew of 24 people included one Romanian, three Greeks, four Montenegrins, and 16 Filipinos.

BLIDA

The vessel was seized on January 1, 2011. The 20,586-tonne Algerian-flagged bulk carrier was seized about 150 miles southeast of Salalah, Oman. The ship, with 27 crew from Algeria, Ukraine, and the Philippines, was heading to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from Salalah with a cargo of clinker.

DOVER

Seized on February 28, this vessel was taken about 260 nautical miles northeast of Salalah in Oman. The Panamanian flagged, Greek owned vessel was on its way to Saleef (Yemen) from Port Quasim (Pakistan) when it was attacked. The crew consists of three Romanians, one Russian and 19 Filipinos.

ROSALIA D'AMATO

This vessel was seized on April 21. The Italian-owned bulk carrier was captured 350 miles off the coast of Oman. The 74,500 tonne bulk carrier was on its way to Bandar Imam Khomeini in Iran from Brazil with a cargo of soya. The 21 crew consisted of six Italians and 15 Filipinos.

Over 700 hostages

All in all, as of January 2011, over 700 hostages from over 30 vessels are being held by Somali pirates, according to the records of the International Maritime Bureau.

Hijacking incidents on Somalian waters have been a threat to international shipping since Somalia entered into civil war in 1991. Poverty has become widespread since.

In 2008, the World Bank reported as much as 73 percent of the population in Somalia lived on a daily income below $2.

Likewise, the United Nations has suggested that unabated illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters by foreign vessels has driven Somali fishermen - severely constrained to earn a living - to turn to piracy instead.

Some pirates have claimed that they have dealt such illegal activity to protect their waters, following the absence of an effective national coastguard.