UK-based charity Sailors’ Society has launched a crisis response network to help victims of trauma at sea in Asia, the charity said.
The move is in response to the increase in kidnappings at sea, particularly in Asia, which reached their highest levels in 10 years in 2016.
The charity, which supports seafarers around the world, said in a statement last week it has trained all 20 of its chaplains across Asia in crisis response and is now offering a 24-hour support service to victims of piracy, kidnapping and natural disasters.
Last month, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released statistics showing that kidnapping at sea tripled in 2016 from the previous year, with pirates kidnapping 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents.
“The Crisis Response Network Asia expands Sailors’ Society’s existing crisis response networks in Ukraine and Africa and comes at a time when there has been an escalation in the number of kidnappings in the Sulu Sea between East Malaysia and the Philippines,” the charity said.
Reports compiled by IMB showed that 12 crewmembers were kidnapped from vessels in three separate attacks in the Sulu Sea in the past three months.
On January 9, eight fishermen were killed by armed men who attacked their boat in a suspected pirate attack off the Southern Philippines.
Sailors’ Society highlighted the story of Adi Manurung, aged 32, one of 26 crewmembers from the Naham 3 who were released in October after being held hostage by Somali pirates for almost five years. The charity said he is now receiving help from Sailors’ Society chaplains, including financial support, accompanying him to visits to the psychiatrist and providing counseling for him and his family to help him reintegrate into his community.
The charity quoted Adi as saying he and his colleagues ate mice and wild cats during their captivity.
“I thought that I would die,” he said. “There was no hope.
“The thing that helped me survive was reading a Bible that I had brought with me. When one of the pirates found out that I had it, he threw it onto the floor and stamped on it.
“My dream for the future is to return to the job I always wanted as a seafarer so I can please my parents, who are aging and cannot work.
“I hated the pirates. But now I can forgive them. God is forgiving, and I should also be a forgiving person,” he added.
“Victims of piracy and kidnappings are exposed to violence and terror, which can have a devastating impact on them and their families for years to come,” said Stuart Rivers, CEO of Sailors’ Society.
“By coming alongside these survivors and their families, we can work with other agencies to help them come to terms with what has happened, give them financial, physical and psychological support to help them pick up the pieces of their lives,” Rivers added.