21 Filipinos freed by Somali pirates


By Veronica Uy
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:26:00 01/13/2009

Filed Under: Sea piracy

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Twenty-one Filipino seafarers from the M/V African Sanderling were released by suspected Somali pirates, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos said Tuesday.

The release of the 21 came two days after seven other Filipino sailors were freed.

M/V African Sanderling, which was hijacked October 16 last year, was released after the release of Saudi supertanker M/T Sirius Star Friday and of M/V Delight Saturday.

At a press conference, Conejos said 44 Filipinos on three ships are still being held by the pirates. These are the M/V Stolt Strength (with 23 Filipino seamen, captured November 10, 2008), F/B Tianyu #8 (with three Filipinos, captured November 14, 2008), and M/V Star Venus (with 18 Filipinos, captured November 16, 2008).

Conejos said all the Filipinos, both those released and still being held, are in good condition.

He said concerted international action against the pirates appear to be successful so far, as the last ship with Filipino seamen was hijacked November 17.

Last December 15, the United Nations made the strongest statement against piracy in the Gulf of Aden through a resolution allowing the Coalition of Naval Forces to undertake land-based military operations in Somalia.

The naval forces of NATO (Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization) have also started the convoy system among ships passing through the gulf that connects Asia and Europe.

“The international action has worked. The result speaks for itself,” Conejos said.

Somalia has been a failed state without a working government for almost two decades.

Since April last year, suspected Somali pirates have hijacked 17 ships with 208 Filipino seamen.

As of last count, 14 ships with 164 Filipino seamen have been released.

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