The world’s leading shipping associations have highlighted the inequality seafarers face as hostages.
“The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern for the four commercial vessels and their crews being held hostage,” states an open letter sent by 16 shipping organisations last week to the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres.

Eleven days ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy hijacked a containership belonging to an affiliate of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Maritime and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) near the Strait of Hormuz. The 15,000 teu MSC Aries has since been taken to Iranian waters where it is anchored near three other ships Iran has seized in recent months.

Meanwhile, an NYK-operated car carrier, the Galaxy Leader, remains in Yemeni waters, having been hijacked six months ago by the Houthis, while off the Horn of Africa Somali pirates have resumed their ransom tactics, abducting two ships in recent months.

“Innocent seafarers have been killed, seafarers are being held hostage. This would be unacceptable on land, and it is unacceptable at sea,” the letter to the UN boss warned, demanding the UN body create an enhanced coordinated military presence, missions and patrols in the region and that all efforts possible are brought to bear to release the many seafarers currently being held hostage in the Middle East.

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