The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) welcomes the release of three Iranian hostages by Somali pirates after nearly five and half years in captivity.

The three Iranian hostages, who were held for 1,975 days by Somali pirates, have been released and arrived safely at Tehran. They are the last three crew members of FV Siraj, an Iranian fishing vessel with 19 crew, which was hijacked by Somali pirates on 25 March 2015.

Last year, one other crew member was released by the pirates on humanitarian grounds and has been provided with support by ISWAN with the assistance of IMM Syndicate – the ITF-affiliated trade union in Iran.

ISWAN has been providing humanitarian assistance to the families of the crew members while they were in captivity by looking after some of the essential needs such as funding the education of their children, helping with the medical care of their elderly parents and paying for repairs to their homes.

ISWAN is grateful to the United Nations and Hostage Support Partnership for bringing an end to the terrifying ordeal that the hostages went through. With their release, there are no more seafarer hostages in Somalia. Between 2007 and 2018, approximately 3,639* seafarers from across the world were held in captivity by the pirates, ranging from a few months to five and half years.

ISWAN’s Director of Regions, Chirag Bahri, who was himself once held hostage by Somali pirates, said: ‘The seafarers and their families have suffered immensely during their period of captivity as there was very little communication between them. The families also suffered severe hardship during the five and half years while their loved ones were in captivity. ISWAN worked with number of partners across the globe to help the families with basic livelihood means, education and medical support from piracy relief funds. ISWAN also supported seafarers after their return from captivity with rehabilitation including psychological support. We wish to thank governments and other organisations who supported the piracy relief funds. Over the years this has enabled some of the seafarers held hostage to return to sea.’

ISWAN is a member of the UNSC’s mandated Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and also administers the Piracy Survivor Family Fund (PSFF).

ISWAN is available to provide humanitarian support to seafarers and their families affected by incidents of piracy, armed robbery or hostage-taking.

*Source: The International Maritime Bureau (IMB)