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Fundraising to support Georgian seafarers held hostage by pirates

26 January 2012

A Georgian maritime union has established a solidarity fund to help seafarers whose ship was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia in 2010. They were held hostage for 16 months and finally released on 8 January.

The Georgian Seafarers’ Union (GSU), supported by the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC), set up the special fund and managed to raise 51,000 GEL (more than US$30,000). The money will be distributed equally among the 15 seafarers.

The Malta-flagged Olib G, which was loaded with scrap metal, was seized by Somali pirates on 8 September 2010. The vessel belonged to the Greek ship-owning company Frio Ventures. Three Turkish seafarers were also among the crew held hostage.

It was reported that, following the pirates’ threats to shoot the hostages, the Greek company offered up the vessel itself as a ransom; the pirates later abandoned it.

On 8 January, the hostages were released and, escorted by armed guards, they were taken to a government-controlled Georgian vessel. They arrived on 12 January in a safe port in Kenya, after which they returned to Batumi, Georgia.

On 18 January, a meeting took place at Batumi’s maritime college, attended by unionists – including GSU chair Anatoly Tchidjavadze and GTUC chair Irakli Petriashvili – seafarers, employers, cadets from the college, and maritime authority and maritime medical centre representatives. During the event, medical centre representatives pledged to provide the 15 seafarers and their families with free medical treatment.

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