Vietnamese fishermen remain at mercy of Somali pirates

By Kim Thuy, Duc Hung, Dao Dang Toan   March 18, 2016 | 03:05 am PT
Vietnamese fishermen remain at mercy of Somali pirates
Mrs Thuy said to send many letters to the government asking for help : Duc Hung. VnExpress.
Three Vietnamese from a poor rural area in the northern central province of Ha Tinh left their homeland in 2011 to work for Taiwanese fishing ships in the hope of a better future, but disaster struck when they were abducted by Somali pirates.

Nguyen Van Ha, Nguyen Van Xuan and Phan Xuan Phuong paid VND12 million ($540) each to travel to Taiwan for work back in 2011. Most of that money was borrowed from relatives.

They have been held captive since 2012.             

Ha's mother Nguyen Thi Thuy said that she received a phone call in April 2012 saying all 26 sailors on his boat, including three Vietnamese, had been captured by Somali pirates who were asking for $60,000 per person as a ransom.

Thuy asked Vinamotor (a Hanoi-based labour export firm) to seek support from local authorities, but the firm warned her it could risk the hostages' chances of survival.

“My son has not called me for three years,” Thuy told VnExpress in tears.

Last year, the firm informed her that the three men were alive. However, she has not received any information about her son since then, and doesn't know if he is alive today.

Five years ago, her daughter went to work in Angola where she was killed by robbers.

Nguyen Thi Quynh, Xuan's wife, has been struggling to pay the loan her husband borrowed four years ago to work aboard, while trying to raise their children and care for Xuan’s elderly parents.

“She bursts into tears whenever we talk about her husband. The kids just keep asking why their dad has been away for so long. We try to comfort her and we also feel so sorry every time we see the children,” said Tran Thi Linh, her neighbor.

The mother of the other detainee, Phuong, suffered a stroke on receiving news of her son's plight, and has been bed-ridden ever since.


Ha (1), Phuong (2), Xuan (6) with other detainees from different countries captured by Somali pirates four years ago. The pirates sent the picture along with their ransom demands.

Phuong’s family has sent various letters to local authorities in Hanoi to seek help but have received no replies, his father, Phan Xuan Linh, told VnExpress over the phone.

Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, head of Vinamotor’s Sailors and Laborers Department, confirmed that the case of the missing three crew members has been reported to relevant government departments.

“At present we do not have exact information on the sailors. We are hiring a Hong Kong-based law firm to negotiate with the pirates in a bid to rescue the crew members. This incident should be resolved at state level,” she said.

The owners of the Taiwanese boat said they have paid a large amount of money to the pirates and negotiations to free the detainees are underway. Vinamotor added that the company will inform the families as soon as they have any news.

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