Guest post by YUSRA ASKARI
Karachi: The MV Albedo and its crew; 7 Pakistanis, 7 Bangladeshis, 6 Sri Lankans, 2 Indians and 1 Iranian national have been held hostage by pirates off the coast of Somalia, for over 17 months now. With the final deadline fast approaching, last ditch efforts are underway in Pakistan to ensure the safe return of all 22 sailors.
Docked 60 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, onboard the MV Albedo, food and water is scarce and living conditions extremely tough. One crew member, an Indian, has died from cholera. The families of the sailors believe the torture and agony endured by them cannot be compared to those aboard the ship.
“Every time I eat my food, I feel guilty, because I know my father is deprived of this food. Every time I sleep on my bed, I think of him, that he’s not given this comfort” says Mishal Jawaid, daughter of Capt. Jawaid. “I would just want everyone to come forward and help us raise these funds, so that, all those people who have been suffering, can come home” she adds
Following negotiations between the pirates and Citizen’s Police Liaison Committee acting on the behest of the Governor of Sindh, Pakistan, it has been agreed, that by the 20th of April, $2.85m worth of expenses will be paid to the captors but no ransom.
“Itna paisa kahan say jamaa hoga, yeh humara bohat bara tension hai. Aur main poori duniya say appeal karti hoon, please, please, is waqt 22 zindagiyon ka sawal hai” pleads a tearful Neelum, wife of 1st Officer Mujtaba
Neelum Mujtaba and her 14 month old son, Ahmed who has never seen his father are not alone in their plight. Across borders, families of the sailors have been in contact,
“I have been receiving calls from Bangladesh…crew which is from Bangladesh, from Sri Lanka…they are also in touch with us” explains Shahnaz Jawaid, wife of Capt. Jawaid. They are also pleading for help in their countries also, but I believe they have got no help from their own people and they are also depending on Pakistan” she adds
Like in the case of the MV Suez, Pakistan has once again taken the lead in ensuring the safe return the sailors on board the MV Albedo. Despite offers of the release of its own from among the crew; Pakistan says will settle for nothing short of all 22 sailors on board.
“I was offered several times from the pirates, that the Pakistanis will be handed over to you free of cost and we would take the others at cost” says CPLC Chief, Ahmed Chinoy. He adds “the honorable governor refused in the first instance, saying no we want all the people back, all these people are my people”
You too, can help bring the crew of MV Albedo home. Here’s how: http://savemvalbedo.com/donate/
(Yusra Askari is a journalist in Karachi.)