This file photo shows the relatives with the portrait photos of kidnapped sailors are forming human chain demanding their release. Photo: BSS
Somali pirates have released seven Bangladeshi sailors nearly three and a half years after their abduction from a ship.
The crew members were kidnapped by the pirates on November 26 in 2010 when they were on board "MV Albedo", a Malaysian flagged-vessel.
"The seven Bangladeshis have just been released by their captors and are being flown to Nairobi by a special aircraft of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Kenya," a foreign ministry press release said here today.
It said the UNODC authorities and Bangladesh high commission in Nairobi will receive the sailors in Kenya where they will undergo medical checkup.
"However, preliminary report received from our high commission confirmed that all seven are in good health and would be staying at a local hotel where they will be provided with food, medicine and clothing," the release said.
The Bangladesh high commission in Nairobi has already been instructed to prepare their travel documents.
As soon as the required formalities will be completed by the UNODC, the Bangladesh high commission will arrange passage for the seven to return home.
The foreign ministry remained pro-actively engaged with all concerned, both at home and abroad, since the abduction of the seven Bangladeshi crew members, along with sailors from India, Sri Lanka, Iran and Pakistan.
The foreign ministry initially confirmed through Maritime Piracy and
Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) based in London, quoting sources in the UN Office for Somalia and Nairobi, that the seven Bangladeshi crew members were alive.
The authorities concerned of Malaysia were approached since the ship owner is a Malaysian national.
The high commissioner of Malaysia in Dhaka was also requested by the foreign ministry to use their good offices in arranging release of the seven.
However, following a series of meetings and interactions with the Malaysian authorities, the foreign ministry was informed that they were unable to use their good offices due to the fact that the Malaysian owner had already abandoned the ship.
Due to lack of usual maintenance, MV Albedo sank on July 7 in 2013 and the abducted crew members were shifted by the pirates to another hijacked fishing vessel.
The foreign ministry closely monitored developments and remained fully engaged in obtaining release of the seven.
Since the government, as a matter of principle, was not in a position to even bargain on paying ransom, the ministry continued to keep the MPHRP engaged with the issue and invited the latter to visit the families of the seven crew in Bangladesh.
Thereafter, a team from the MPHRP visited Bangladesh from March 3 to 6 in 2013 and through a seminar at BIISS shared their perspectives on how to have the crew released as also to familiarize with possible strategies to meet such emergencies.
On the ministry's initiative, the MPHRP team members also visited the family members of the abducted crew members in Chittagong.
All seven abducted crew members are expected to return to Bangladesh soon and join their families.
On behalf of the foreign ministry, Rear Admiral (retd) Md Khurshed Alam,
Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit), handled the issue from day one till their release.
The government of Bangladesh deeply appreciated the assistance of UNODC and MPHRP for their continuous support and assistance in the release of the seven abducted Bangladeshis.