New program set to assist Seafarers and Families affected by Piracy

A new program set to help seafarers and their families cope with the physical and mental trauma caused by torture and abuse at the hands of pirates is being launched in London, UK today.

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), funded by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The TK Foundation, is chaired by Peter Swift, formerly managing director of shipping industry body INTER­TANKO. The programme speaks for an alli­ance of ship-owners, trade unions, managers, manning agents, insurers and welfare asso­ciations representing the entire shipping in­dustry, from crews to owners.

It aims to help seafarers who have been or may be subject to pirate attack. Pirates now regularly treat hostage seafarers with extreme violence to pressurize families and employers to expedite their ransom demands. This can include phoning family members and forcing the seafarer to plead for their life while they are being abused and threatened with death, and filming and posting this online for rela­tives to see.

Peter Swift, MPHRP chair, explained: “Pi­racy is reaching an all-time high: in the number of incidents, in the vast ransoms demanded and, most of all, in the extreme violence used. The treatment meted out to the victims now frequently crosses the line from savagery into torture.”

Roy Paul, of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, and MPHRP programme manager, added: “Until now, there has been little coordinated help for those who are suffering. Now that will change. With the help of those in the industry who want to do their best for those involved, we intend to build up a network of first re­sponders and get psychosocial help for af­fected crews.”

He concluded: “We have already been listen­ing to seafarers and recording their experi­ences. Those will lay the foundation for new guides for seafarers, families and employers, for training in their use, and for building the networks of human and medical help that are now desperately needed.” (ITF NEWS)