Aid ship sailing to Somalia hijacked; aid supply threatened

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Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Soon after a UN report highlighted the food crisis facing Somalia, a ship carrying food aid to Somalia has been hijacked off the coast of the country and its ten crew members abducted. The pirates are demanding a ransom of half a million dollars for the return of the ship.

Neither the UN World Food Programme (WFP) nor the ship's owners are willing to pay the ransom. Last year, pirates killed 30 sailors.

The WFP hopes the ship will be released soon but cannot continue shipments until then because of safety concerns. If the ship is released soon, there will be no interruption in aid supply.

The WFP believe the crew is still on board the ship and that the crew are "fine". They hope the ship will be returned to them shortly.

The WFP supplies about 3,000 tons of food for about 275,000 Somalis per month, and the country currently has about two weeks of stocks left.