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UN seeks to rescue 26 Asian crew

Storyline:National News

United Nations agencies are seeking to rescue 26 more Asian crewmen being held captive by Somali pirates after successfully helping to free the Thai crew of the fishing vessel Prantalay 12 in a mission joined by Thai government agencies

Roy Paul, programme director for the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), told the Bangkok Post on Monday that officials had worked hard to rescue the Thai crew but declined to provide the details of the mission, saying it could affect operations to help other fishermen still being held by pirates.

“We cannot disclose the details about the negotiations with armed Somali pirates, as this might affect the living conditions of the remaining 26 crewmen, who are from different countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and China,” he said.
“The way the UN negotiates with another party is confidential and for the Thai crew. The UN Office of Drugs and Crimes hostage-release programme based in Africa led the mission to help the Thais,” Mr Paul said.

Before returning to Thailand, the four crewmen were taken to the Thai embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and given a medical check-up.

All matters related to passports, travel documents, and flights to Bangkok were arranged by the embassy, he said.

In the meantime, a member of the MPHRP team, Apinya Tajit, confirmed that no Thai fishermen had been left behind with Somali pirates.

The MPHRP also stressed it has a back-up plan to help the victims if they do not receive fair treatment from the government.

“We will always help victims and their families.

“We are now waiting for the Thai government to take further steps to help the victims’ physical and mental recovery,” Ms Apinya said, adding the Thai fishermen were not well treated during their captivity.
Ms Apinya said the MPHRP has supported a monthly allowance of US$300 (about 9,000 baht) for each victim’s family but admitted that help sometimes cannot be provided on time, as there are many victims and only a small amount of funds available.
According to the MPHRP, the mission began in August 2011 after the Indian navy rescued 41 fishermen who had been taken hostage by Somali pirates.

At that stage, the MPHRP heard that four Thai victims had been recaptured after they previously fled.

Somali pirates hijacked the Thai-flagged Prantalay 12 in April 2010.

The four fishermen have recently arrived back in Thailand.