Programme calls for hostages to be remembered

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Peter Swift
Peter Swift

The Chairman of a programme which offers support to seafarers and their families affected by maritime piracy, asked for those still being held hostage to be remembered when picking up an award this week.

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) was presented with an annual Seatrade award on Monday for ‘Support and assistance to seafarers and their families affected by maritime piracy’.

“We are most grateful for this recognition of the Programme’s work supporting seafarers and their families before, during and after incidents of piracy and armed robbery,” said Peter Swift.

“Today we also remember the nearly 50 seafarers and fishers still held hostage in Somalia, all of whom have been held for more than two years – some for several years – and encourage everyone who can do so to tirelessly work for their prompt release and to support and assist them and their families.”

He praised the exceptional dedication and commitment of the MPHRP team members, the tremendous support provided by the Programme’s partners, and the very generous financial assistance of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, the TK Foundation and Seafarers UK. He said the award also recognised the hardship and suffering of many seafarers and their loved ones who are affected by piracy, for some of whom the MPHRP is often the only provider of support and assistance.

The MPHRP is a pan-industry alliance of ship owners, managers, manning agents, insurers, maritime unions, and professional and welfare associations working together with governmental and intergovernmental organisations, which has been specifically established to assist and support these seafarers and address many of the concerns that they express.

By concentrating on the three elements of a piracy incident – before, during and after – the Programme addresses the safety of seafarers by: Developing good practice guides and pre-departure piracy awareness training programmes, and conducting workshops and courses; Operating a 24-hour, toll-free, international helpline, and encouraging information sharing and plan implementation; Providing direct support and assistance with repatriation, homecoming and recovery, including the establishment of professional and welfare secondary support networks.

 The Programme was launched in 2011 and the first work involved information sharing among the partners to develop good practice guides and thereafter piracy awareness training courses for seafarers, companies and responders, together with associated Train the Trainers programmes.

 Programmes and courses have been conducted by the MPHRP and also in conjunction with governments, training establishments, the IMO, NATO/MSCHOA (Maritime Shipping Centre-Horn of Africa), the US Maritime Administration and companies in more than 20 countries which have been attended by over 5,000 people. It is estimated that the MPHRP programmes and courses rolled out by others have to date reached more than 20,000 seafarers.

Direct support and assistance has also been provided by the MPHRP and through the programme by its partners and others to many thousands of seafarers who have returned after being attacked or held hostage. The MPHRP has also assisted many families of seafarers during their captivity, including those who are still being held.