x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE must redouble efforts to bring hostages home, say shippers

TThe way forward: Piracy Need to keep up fight against pirates despite dip in attacks

Despite fewer attacks last year, seagoing nations are being urged not to forget the hostages still held captive by Somali pirates, and to continue to support task forces fighting the raiders.

Appeals have been made to the international community by relatives of hostages and officials of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and the European Union Naval Force that help to protect the Arabian Gulf waters.

To date, there are 119 people held hostage by Somali pirates aboard eight ships and another 23 sailors are being held ashore, according to IMB statistics.

Among these is the Dubai-owned MT Royal Grace, hijacked in March last year, with 22 crew on board.

Combined naval patrols and armed guards protecting merchant vessels have slashed piracy attacks from 176 in 2011 to 35 until October last year.

But shippers have also reported an increase in incidents of pirates subjecting their hostages to violent attacks.

A redoubling of efforts is needed to get the hostages back home, say relatives and the shipping community.

rtalwar@thenational.ae