Report to the CGPCS PSFF donors, November 2016

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Piracy Survivors Family Fund, November 2016

The CGPCS Piracy Survivors Family Fund (PSFF) provides funds for the survivors of Somali piracy, and for their families, to assist with financial hardship and to provide support at a time of need. The fund is held in pounds sterling by ISWAN and administered on behalf of the CGPCS.

Affected families can get directly in touch with ISWAN through the 24 hour helpline, more often referrals come through the field workers of ISWAN / MPHRP, who are on hand in Asia and able to signpost survivors and families to the fund. There are other means of assistance which are not financial, such as help finding work, or referrals to other agencies to deal with wage or contractual claims.

Once referred, the details are presented to ISWAN on a form, and the merits of funding applications considered by four independent people connected to the shipping industry and knowledgeable about piracy and the humanitarian needs of survivors and families. When agreement is reached, funds are paid to the applicant, and follow-up made to ensure the funds are spent appropriately.

The contributors to the fund since it started have been as follows:

12/02/2015 Forsvarskommandoen Denmark  £  12,892.52
17/02/2015 Norsk Sjomannsforbund  £  1,590.30
18/02/2015 Norsk Sjooffisersforbund  £  1,592.44
19/02/2015 Det Norske Maskinistforbund  £  1,628.54
16/03/2015 FCO United Kingdom  £  20,000.00
16/04/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring  £  3,277.09
27/04/2015 Norges Rederiforbund  £  3,232.97
29/10/2015 Government of Taiwan  £  20,603.00
04/12/2015 Den Norske Krigsforsikring £   3,319.00

These donations have provided a total of £68,135.86, currently the equivalent of USD 85,133. The table below covers the payments made by the fund since the last report in May 2016. Donations are agreed in USD.

 

Donations made during the period June – October 2016:

Name Country Ship Grant allocation USD Date
1 Oliver Philippines Smyrni School fees $ 750 20/7/2016
2 Antonio Philippines Naham 3 Livelihood support and medical expenses $ 1,650 25/7/2016
3 26 hostages various Naham 3 ex-gratia payment USD 500 pp paid to 16 hostages, and assistance with flights home for the Cambodian hostages  $ 13,000 21/7/2016
4 3 hostages Vietnam Naham3 reception when released  $ 2,992 24/10/2016
5 4 hostages Cambodia Naham 3 reception when released  $ 4,795 24/10/2016
6 5 hostages Philippines Naham 3 reception when released  $ 4,502 24/10/2016
7 10 hostages China and Taiwan Naham 3 Ex-gratia payment of USD 500 pp $ 5,000 Not yet paid
   

Funds expended and committed during this period total USD 32,689.

Funds expended during the previous period July 2015 to May 2016, USD 23,824.

 

Hostages currently held in Somalia:

The seafarers from the Siraj, estimated that 10 of them remain in Somalia out of an original 17 who were captured in March 2015.

Siraj: ISWAN / MPHRP is making efforts to find the families of the hostages in Iran, in order to discover how they are managing and whether the programme is able to offer any assistance. We are also seeking someone in Iran who is involved in the negotiations to free the hostages to make sure that they are in touch with the Hostage Support Partnership, and John Steed in Mombasa. We have tried various leads in Iran, but have not so far managed to make any headway on this.

 

Release of the Naham 3 hostages:

On 22 October the news broke of the release of the remaining 26 survivors of the Naham 3 from their captivity in Somalia of over four and a half years. Funds had already been sent to the Hostage Support Partnership in Kenya for payment of USD 500 per seafarer on release, as they had no salaries being paid while they were held by the pirates. Other organisations also donated funds when meant that the seafarers went home with well over USD 1,000 each. The exception to this was the nine Chinese and the one Taiwanese seafarers, who were repatriated too quickly for the funds to be given to them. Instead, the remaining USD 5,000 was put towards the air tickets of the four Cambodian seafarers, who had not received any support for their repatriation and needed urgent assistance to get home.

Funds were also provided for a welcome for the seafarers of the Naham 3 when they arrived in the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. These funds enabled a well-managed reception of the hostages when they arrived in their home country; for the families of the hostages to travel to meet with them at the airport of arrival, and to spend two days together before they travelled home. Professional support, medical and psychological, was made available. In the Philippines, the reception was managed and much of it paid for by the government, but not the flight of one of the wives who came home from her job in Hong Kong to meet her husband at the airport. Some of the governments also provided some funds to the seafarers, in the region of USD 100 to 2,000 each depending on the country where these were given. At the time of writing the seafarers are all home, some have been told not to discuss their experiences, and we are still seeking to make contact with the seafarers and families who we have not been able to reach to date.

 

The future:

Some of the Naham 3 seafarers are likely to need significant help over the next six months. While they have received funds which will support them for a couple of months, many of them are suffering from nightmares, poor sleep, and difficulty in adjusting to life at home. It is important to speak to the families as well as the seafarers, and to follow them up on a monthly basis at least, by phone and through visits where needed, in the coming months. One has had a stroke and may need much longer-term help. Almost all of them come from poor families, and don’t have any kind of social security support.
There are other funds which have also assisted survivors and their families, and who have helped in a number of cases. Seafarers UK will assist UK and Commonwealth citizens who have been affected by piracy, and have recently helped two seafarers in Bangladesh who are re-training to get the necessary certificates to get back to sea again. The Sailors Society has a particular emphasis on assisting with education and medical expenses, and have also helped those in need applying through ISWAN / MPHRP over this period. This has meant that we have been able to make the PSFF funds go further.
There is a need for funds for piracy survivors who are the victims of pirates in West Africa, and also because of the hostage taking in South East Asia. We are appealing for funds from donors to do this for the MPHRF, the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Fund, which provides help for seafarers of any nationality who have been the victims of piracy or armed robbery anywhere in the world.

 

Case histories:

1/ Philippines: the family of Antonio, Naham 3, a grant of USD 1,650.

The mother of Antonio was helped with medical assistance for appendicitis. The family struggled to send the mother to the hospital for a check-up and medication and was forced to go further into debt to provide the necessary treatment for her. The indebtedness started when the hostage decided to go to sea, and they mortgaged their small rice plantation just to complete all the necessary requirements for him to go on board a ship. But unfortunately the dream became a nightmare to the family when the seafarer was captured by Somali pirates.

The programme was able to help the family for medical expenses and a small subsistence allowance as well. In addition, the land has been redeemed back for the family to help them survive since there would be no other alternative resources for them because they are situated in an agricultural area and farming is the only way of making a living there. The family expressed their heartfelt gratitude and said that they will never forget what has been done to help them. We hope that by doing this the PSFF has provided long-term assistance to the family of this hostage by getting them out of a situation where half of their crop was being given as an interest payment on the debt on their land.

CGPCS Nov Antonio 1

On the left is the mother of Antonio showing the redeemed land title, while his younger brother is shown in the centre, and Jun Pablo of ISWAN / MPHRP on the right

 

CGPCS Nov Antonio 2

November 2016: A happy conclusion - Antonio returns home, seen here holding the banner on the right hand side. His mother is on the right of the photo

 

2/ Cambodia : welcome for the four returning seafarers in Phnom Penh, a grant of USD 4,795

On the night of Sunday 30 October the four Cambodian hostages from the Naham 3 returned to Phnom Penh after four and a half years of captivity in Somalia, having been captured by pirates in Seychelles waters in March 2012. They were met on their journey home by Apinya Tajit, the MPHRP welfare responder based in Thailand, and by Tek Sopheak of Caritas when they arrived in Cambodia. Apinya and Sopheak had prepared a homecoming package funded by the PSFF for the seafarers and their families, involving transporting the families to meet the seafarers on arrival in Phnom Penh, providing accommodation, medical check-ups and transport to and from their homes.

The four hostages were Thy, Phummany, Hen and Sosan. At least one of these men was involved in saving the lives of some of the seafarers from the ship Albedo, which sank while still attached by cable to the Naham 3 during a storm. They arrived home to huge media interest.

They were released on 22 October thanks to the intervention and work of the Hostage Support Partnership and John Steed over many months, and were flown to Nairobi the day afterwards. In Nairobi, they were fed, provided with new clothes and given medical check-ups. Following arrangements made for their repatriation, and being given donations from well-wishing organisations including ISWAN, they were flown home via the Philippines. At the airport they were met by AoS, Caritas, ISWAN / MPHRP, Interior ministry, foreign ministry, immigration officials and representatives of the IOM. The government welcomed the men and gave each one a donation of Riels 500,000.

Apinya said: “It was wonderful to meet the men who we have been hoping to see for so many years. They are in good health considering the experience that they have had. One survivor had no family to meet him, as his family had not been able to be traced before he arrived home.” Tek Sopheak said “when the seafarers arrived we met with their families and counsellors to help with their feelings and prepare them for the future. The Caritas counselling team included an experienced counsellor and a child psychiatrist.”

CGPCS Nov Phnom Penh

Tek Sopheak on left, Apinya Tajit on right, and the four seafarers wearing scarves

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