Piracy Hostages and family needs highlighted in Manila seminars

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Two major events held at the AMOSUP Convention Hall in Manila on December 7th and 9th highlighted the needs of seafarers and their families during piracy hostage situations.

The Piracy Awareness Seminar brought together over 90 participants from manning agents, unions, government departments and other sectors of the industry to discuss the latest international situation concerning pirate attacks and the implications for families of seafarers caught up in such incidents. The two workshops arranged two days later provided practical, hands-on communication skills to a similar number of delegates who may be required to deal with seafarers and families in hostage situations. Both events were co-ordinated by FAME.

The spokesman for the International Committee on Seafarers Welfare, David Dearsley, said ICSW had initiated the events because it was concerned that too often the impact of these traumatic events on the families of the seafarers was forgotten.

The seminar and workshops were held under the auspices of the “Maritime Piracy: A Humanitarian Response Programme”, which had international support from all sides of industry, and was generously supported by a grant from the ITF Seafarers Trust. The instructors for the events were Dr Marion Gibson and D. Colum Humphries from Respond Training, who are international experts in the field of trauma and stress counselling.

The workshops they conducted introduced the delegates to practical communication skills they can use when dealing with distressed family members including advice on how to break bad news, and involved role play so that delegates could practice these skills.

At the end of the workshops Roy Paul, speaking for the ITF Seafarers Trust said: “This seminar has been the first time that the maritime industry has provided training in communication with families in crisis situations, and the response has shown that it will not be the last.

“The numbers of delegates applying to attend, the number of questions that have been posed and the feedback you have provided confirms that we have fulfilled a need. The information we have gained during our visit, including discussions with seafarers and their families who had been affected by piracy and a visit to the AMOSUP Seafarers Village, will be fed into the Maritime Piracy: A Humanitarian Response Programme and used to further develop programmes to fill the gaps in the way we deal as an industry with the problems caused by the scourge of piracy for the seafarers and their families that become involved,” he said.

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