Aman Kumar Sharma from Himachal Pradesh, an Indian national, was among the 11 crew members of a ship freed after being held hostage for nearly four years by Somali pirates, with a top United Nations official calling for the release of all remaining captives.
The UN envoy for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, welcomed the release over the weekend of the 11 crew members of the ship MV Albedo which was hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2010.
According to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, the 11 survivors of the MV Albedo crew were released to officials from the UN Office for Drugs and Crime inside Somalia and are now safely back in Kenya.
The crew members include seven men from Bangladesh, one Indian, one Iranian, and two from Sri Lanka. They will be repatriated to their home countries over the coming days.
The MV Albedo had been held by armed Somali pirates since November 2010 but the ship sank close to the Somali coast last year due to mechanical failure and bad weather.
The surviving crew had been held on shore by pirates since that time.
"For over three years the crew members and their families have suffered unimaginable distress. The crew underwent the trauma of piracy, their ship sinking and then being held ashore in very difficult conditions," Kay said.
"While we have seen a significant reduction in piracy off the coast of Somalia in recent years, I remain deeply concerned that 38 other crew members are still being held hostage by Somali pirates," Kay said, calling on "those who continue to detain these crew members to release them without further delay."
UNODC's Counter Piracy Programme, now in its fourth year of operation, supports the criminal justice professionals of States in the Indian Oceans region that are dealing with Somali piracy.
It has developed an extensive police and Coast Guard contingent, as well a division that deals with hostage release and repatriation.
Image: Aman Kumar Sharma. Photograph: Courtesy Facebook.