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Fiji Local and Tuvaluans held by Somali Pirates

By ELENOA BASELALA
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THE Fiji Government will approach the international community for assistance as the mother of Somali hostage and Fiji national Wayne Suliana pleads for his release.

Foreign Affairs acting deputy permanent secretary Sila Balawa said the Fiji missions in London and Brussels would be alerted to contact ACP and European Union counterparts for assistance in the release of Mr Suliana and the 11 Tuvaluans that were being held hostage by Somali pirates for a ransom of $31million (US$15m).

The ministry was unaware that the Fiji national was among the 24 sailors on a German cargo ship Hansa Stavager that was seized on April 5 on its way to South Africa.

Mr Suliana's mother, Vamarosi Mausio has come to the media with her plea after her 31-year-old son failed to call in the last two weeks.

"He usually calls on Sundays and it lasts for three to five minutes," she said.

"But his last call, he told me not to worry about him but I could tell from his voice that something was wrong.

"Whenever he called, he would say they would be free soon but the last time he called I knew he was not convinced when he told me."

Mrs Mausio, a mother of three sons, was informed of the hostage taking by her son a few days after the incident.

"He called and said that his ship had been seized and they were keeping the crew hostages," the widower said.

"In his calls, he tells me that he is fine, that they were being given food and water but it was often not enough.

"For the first few days, they were allowed to sleep in their own rooms.

"Most of the time he would not finish what he wanted to say because the pirates would cut off the conversation and say time is up."

Emotionally wrecked Mrs Vamarosi said her son had told her not to do anything because they would be freed soon but with no word from him in the past two Sundays, she had to do something even if Somalia was so far away from Fiji.

Like any mother, she is worried whether he was being fed as Somalia was strife with poverty and violence.

Mr Suliana, a former Marist Brothers' High School student left Fiji in 1997 to study at the Amatuku Maritime School in Tuvalu.

Though, he completed more courses at the Training Productivity Authority of Fiji, Mr Suliana chose to be a seafarer among the Tuvaluans traveling the globe through stints with various shipping companies.

The last time he was in Fiji was last September on route to board the Hansa Stavager.

Early this month, the German government pulled back its elite combat force GSG 9 from storming the ship amid fears it would end in a blood bath.

A weekly magazine Spiegel reported that the force was on the US helicopter ship USS Boxer and were ready to board the ship when they were told to turn back.

It reported that a US government permission was needed to launch the operation and this was not issued.

As Somalia is one of the poorest, most violent, least stable countries anywhere on earth, piracy has become a source of income for many former fishermen.

Last year, shipping firms paid out close to $270m in ransom.

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Comment by Mr. Atabi Ewekia Baoa on May 29, 2009 at 11:22am
It's good to see the Fiji Government trying to liaise with the international community for the release of the hostages. Hope to see a good result.

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