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Not a Disney story
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By Rick Vandekieft

As the latest Pirates of the Caribbean is released, Christian maritime charity Sailors’ Society reveals the ugly face of real-life pirate attacks


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hits UK cinemas this week, the latest instalment in the long-running Disney franchise

Submitted by James Leslie Sailors’ Society

When most people think of piracy, Johnny Depp’s rum-fond Captain Jack Sparrow, is probably what comes to mind for many.

But for the world’s 1.6m seafarers, the reality of modern day piracy couldn’t be further from the Hollywood glamour.

Reacting to a 10-year high in kidnappings at sea, international Christian maritime charity Sailors’ Society, launched a crisis response network in Asia earlier this year to help victims of trauma at sea.

According to statistics from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB), pirates kidnapped 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents last year.

Kidnappings at sea by Filipino Islamic extremist group Abu Sayaaf are on the rise, and 2017 has seen a resurgence in attacks by Somali pirates.

Sailors’ Society, which supports seafarers around the world, has trained more than 50 of its chaplains in Asia, Africa and Ukraine in crisis response and offers a round-the-clock service to victims of piracy, kidnapping, natural disasters and other traumas at sea.

Earlier this year, eight fishermen were killed by armed men who attacked their boat in a suspected pirate attack off the Southern Philippines.

The charity has been supporting Adi Manurung, one of the 26 Naham 3 crew, released last October after being held by Somali pirates for almost five years.

Adi was treated appallingly during his harrowing ordeal and ate mice and wild cats to survive.

“They blindfolded all of us and tied us together,” he said. “I thought that I would die.

“There was no hope.”

He is now receiving help from Sailors’ Society chaplains, including financial support, accompanying him on visits to the psychiatrist and providing counselling for him and his family to help him reintegrate into his community.

Adi lost his job due to the kidnapping and hoping to return to sea to support his ageing parents.

“My dream for the future is to get the job I always wanted working as a seafarer, so that I can please my parents,” he said.

Bangladeshi seafarer Jakir Hossain has also received support from the Southampton-based charity. Jakir was held captive for more than three years by pirates. Regularly tortured, he was freed following lengthy negotiations and was lucky to survive.

“I can’t describe how much they tortured us,” said Jakir.

“This incident seriously affected my family and me, not just physically and financially but mentally too and I still have nightmares about what happened.” Stuart Rivers, CEO of Sailors’ Society, said: “Pirates of the Caribbean is full of fun and fantasy, but in real life seafarers live in fear of a kidnapping happening to them.

“Victims of piracy and kidnappings are exposed to violence and terror, which can have a devastating impact on them and their families for years to come.

“By coming alongside these survivors and their families, we can work with other agencies to help them come to terms with what has happened, give them financial, physical and psychological support to help them pick up the pieces of their lives.”

About Sailors’ Society

Sailors’ Society aims to transform the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.

The charity works internationally to provide practical, emotional and spiritual welfare support to the world’s 1.6m seafarers, regardless of background or faith. Sailors’ Society chaplains and ship visitors have a presence in 91 global ports, with wider projects and services covering 27 countries.

For more information please visit www.sailors-society.org.