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Kenyan seafarers back home after six-month ordeal

17 May 2013, 13:19

Nairobi - A group of six Kenyan seafarers landed home on Wednesday evening after their rescue from a failed fishing expedition along the Indian Ocean coast, which nearly turned tragic in Somalia.

The crew of Royce I, a fishing vessel that sailed off from the port of Mombasa on November 8, 2012 for Djibouti, arrived home heart-broken, but cheerful after a six-month ordeal in Somalia's pirate-infested waters.

"It has been six months without pay, without money and without food in a foreign country. We were abandoned in Bossaso, Puntland, " Nelson Bosire, the Third Engineer of the Royce I told Xinhua on arrival in Nairobi.

The fishing vessel sailed off from Kenya and docked in Kismayu, Southern Somalia after a seven-day expedition. It sailed for another seven days to reach the Mogadishu seaport.

But before reaching its final destination, the seafarers docked off in Bossaso, to deliver some cargo to a prison there.

Bosire, a father of two, said during the journey, the vessel suffered a major engine failure, which nearly turned tragic.

The pump in the engine of the vessel stopped functioning on the journey from Kismayu to Mogadishu. The captain bolted from Mogadishu and another captain took over.

However, the vessel would eventually end its voyage in Bossaso, after a 12-day journey from Mogadishu after the owners abandoned the crew.

"We had to drain water from the vessel manually and we sailed in very heavy waves because of the failure of the bridge pump in the engine. It was very risky."

After off-loading its cargo in Bossaso, which included several tonnes of kitchenware, utensils and specially designed furnaces, the agents of the ship declared they were bankrupt and unable to pay.

"The lady manager said the vessel was bankrupt. We had to stay at an hotel. During our stay, we ran out of food, money and we survived on handouts from officials at the port of Bossasso."

The U.N.'s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), whose office in Puntland, Somalia, assisted the stranded seamen to return home, said the Horn of Africa region remains some of the world's most active migratory corridors, including some 100,000 people fleeing economic hardships in the region.

"There are a lot of economic migrants moving around the region, " said Craig Murphy, the IOM Project Coordinator in charge of Mixed Migration. "We are working to support such migrants support and protection from harsh conditions under which they work," he told Xinhua.

- Xinhua

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