Three seafarers who had been held by Somali pirates for over four and a half years returned home to a huge welcome organised by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour and Capt Nguyen Viet Anh, the MPHRP welfare responder who has been caring for the families. A number of reporters from domestic and foreign news services were also participating in the event.
For almost a year the homecoming had been planned, as the Hostage Support Partnership worked to release the hostages from Kenya. Finally they were freed on 22 October, arriving in Kenya on Sunday 23 and in Hanoi at 1pm on Tuesday 25 October. Viet Anh prepared a reception for the three men, arranging transport for the families to come from their home villages to meet them at the airport in Hanoi and to stay in a hotel for two nights to allow the seafarers some space with their closest relatives, before returning to their home villages.
During the time when they were in Hanoi the men were able to stay together, and have meals with their families and close relatives. They also had a medical check before being provided with transport home. Capt Viet Anh reported that “the Naham 3 seafarers have been safely and smoothly repatriated to Vietnam. Since getting home they seem to have been quickly integrated back into their community. The medical examinations showed them to be in good health.”
During the absence of the hostages in Somalia, Capt Viet Anh searched for the families of the captured men in Vietnamese fishing villages and eventually found them all. Through his intervention, the programme has provided funds to assist with the schooling and support of children and for medical expenses. Viet Anh has kept in constant touch with the families. On being reunited, the families expressed their gratitude to the humanitarian help from MPHRP and from him, that they said “contributed to make their sons, their husbands, to be reborn.”
The seafarers from the Naham 3 have returned without any wages being paid since March 2013, nothing having been paid to sustain the families apart from charitable contributions. The programme will continue to support their rehabilitation now they are home, as it has done for many other seafarers who have survived Somali piracy. The funding to support the seafarers in Vietnam has come from the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Piracy Survivor Family Fund, administered by ISWAN.