Two ships and 20 crew members released by Somali hijackers will need armed escort to reach Mombasa safely.Since the UN doesn't have any warships, perhaps a real navy might want to help out? Perhaps France?
Mr Karim Kudrati, the managing director of Motaku Shipping Agencies, which owns the two vessels, MV Miltzow and MV Semlow, yesterday expressed fears that the ships might be re-captured by gunmen in the war-torn country if they left El Maan port without escort.
"It would be a risky undertaking for the ships and their crew to leave the Somalia waters without armed security," said Kudrati in Mombasa.
The vessels were released on different dates, but have not been able to travel back due to lack of arrangements for their safe departure and arrival.
Seventeen of the former hostages are Kenyans.
"I do not want my vessels and crew to land in more problems after suffering for over three months," said Kudrati.
He said the two vessels could leave anytime as they had completed discharging their cargo.
They have also refuelled and all they require is security before setting off, said the official. He said he had contacted El Maan port authorities in Somalia to see whether they could provide the escort. When reached for comment, World Food Programme Somalia deputy country director, Mr Leo van der Velden, said it was upon the shipping agent to make an official request to the organisation on the issue.
Two of the ships captured had been chartered by the WFP to ferry relief supplies to Somalia.
Velden said once Motaku made the request, the agency would forward it to the United Nations to see whether they could intervene over the thorny issue.
Monday, October 17, 2005