ISWAN provides vital support to seafarers and families after years of captivity

March 28, 2024
Page TBC Seafarers stories 2

This story was originally published in ISWAN’s 2022-23 Annual Review

On 25 December 2022, the crews of two vessels – FV Sudes and FV Meheran – were freed after spending eight and four years respectively in the captivity of the Al-Shabaab militant group.

The seafarers had been held prisoner and subjected to inhumane conditions, being shackled and blindfolded and cut off from the outside world for years on end.

Tragically, four crew members did not survive the ordeal, but for the six Pakistani and 14 Iranian crew who returned home, their journey to recovery was just beginning. They had suffered an extreme physical and emotional toll from their time in captivity, and their families had spent years without their loved ones.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), who secured the crews’ rescue, referred these cases to ISWAN and we made contact with the seafarers and their families through our Volunteer in Iran and Ambassador in Pakistan – Mr. Shahriar Aliabadi and Vice Admiral (Retd.) Mr. Asaf Humayun. They visited as many of the families as possible to offer support and assess their needs for further assistance.

Using the information gathered during these visits, ISWAN arranged grants for the seafarers and their families in Iran and Pakistan through the Piracy Survivor Family Fund (a fund administered by ISWAN on behalf of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, or CGPCS) and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Fund. These grants provided the crew members and their families with financial assistance for essential livelihood costs, medical treatment, house repairs, and rebuilding their lives for a more secure future.

ISWAN’s volunteer in Iran, Mr. Shahriar Aliabadi, with one of the freed crew members.

One of the seafarers said: ‘I am very thankful to ISWAN, thank you very much for helping us’.

This would not have been possible without support from the Iranian Merchant Navy Mariners Syndicate (IMMS) and the Bahria Foundation of the Bahria University in Pakistan.

If you are a seafarer or family member of a seafarer, you can contact our free, confidential, 24-hour helpline, SeafarerHelp, at any time for assistance or support. All the helpline contact details along with useful guidance and information can be found at

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