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Update on Kidnapped Sailors in Somalia

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 05, 2011 12:59 PM

Published: 2011-07-05 12:59:03
Topics: Piracy Reports 2011
Countries: Somalia

As reported by Ecoterra Intl.

SY CHOIZIL : Seized 26. October 2010
Hostages: Deborah Calitz & Bruno Pelizzari

See Reports of this hijacking here

While the official line of the South African Government to not negotiate or pay ransoms remains unchanged, in mid February 2011 a brother of Mrs. Calitz - Kevin van der Merwe who lives in Auckland, New Zealand - broke the silence and called for a public funds-drive to enable the family to make an offer for a release to the Somali hostage takers, who hold them now. He said time was running out and they had to do something, adding: ''I am very worried about them mentally and physically.'' A trust account was being set up and he said even the smallest donation would help.

The ransom demanded for the safe release the Durban couple has been dropped by half, with religious leaders in Mogadishu putting pressure on the pirates to let them go unconditionally, but neither will the family be able to collect the still multimillion dollar ransom nor do they seem to get the right advice, and the longer the case takes, the more complicated it will be to finalize it.

The obvious media black-out until June 2011 was only interrupted by the spread of false rumours and has not helped the hostages a bit.

On 20. June 2011 Deborah Calitz's daughter, Samantha, then broke the silence and told Eyewitness news she believes her mother is alive, after the pirates answered a proof of life question two weeks ago. She said the family is still hopeful she will be released unharmed. Neither Calitz nor her partner Bruno Pelizzari have been allowed to speak to their families but De Jesus said the news they have received is good. “Apparently they are being kept in a compound type of a place where they can exercise and walk around a bit,” she said. She said they are still trying to negotiate down the ransom the pirates are demanding, saying US$5 million is simply too much for the family to afford.

SY ING : Seized February 24, 2011.
Parents Jan Quist Johansen and Birgit Marie Johansen with their children Rune (17), Hjalte (15) and daughter Naja (13), as well as two crew employees - all of Danish nationality.

See Reports of this hijacking here

All the hostages are being held on sea-jacked MV DOVER at the coast near Hurdiyo, while SY ING is kept nearby.

Analysts fear that the arrest by security forces from Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region of four men allegedly belonging to the group holding the seven Danes hostage will complicate matters.

Shocking news, though they were locally not confirmed, were spread in a BBC Radio 4 report by Tom Mangold, broadcast mid April 2011, in which the veteran reporter repeated the story that the thugs had offered to release the family if their 13-year-old daughter was allowed to marry a pirate chief.

Reports from local elders revealed that the situation is tense, because the Danish navy had attacked several pirated vessels over the last four weeks and created havoc along the coasts, though it brought little success.

It is obvious that the health situation of the captives has deteriorated seriously and analyst see the present negotiations - said to be conducted by an inexperienced security company - as rather sluggish.

Recent reports by a website reporting about Somalia turned out to be false altogether and the 7 Danes are still kept hostage on MV DOVER. Local observers, however, reported that the pirate group holding the Danes and the merchant vessel have been pressured again by local elders to end the hostage crisis. This time the pirates appear to be listening.