Monday, June 01, 2009

Tuvalu men kidnapped by Somalis

from Peceli,
We are thinking of our Tuvalu friends at this time. They have enough to worry about with the rising sea without the fears for the safety of some of their men kidnapped off the coast of Africa.

Tuvalu left helpless by pirate kidnappings
By New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie
Posted 1 hour 31 minutes ago

The families of a dozen Pacific Islanders being held by Somali pirates are continuing to pray for their safe return.

Eleven sailors from Tuvalu and one from Fiji were kidnapped two months ago and very little has been heard from them since.

The pirates are demanding a ransom of $US15 million - the kind of money a tiny island nation like Tuvalu does not have a hope of raising.

In a church in Auckland, members of the Tuvaluan community meet up to pray for absent friends who are in grave danger.

The 11 men from Tuvalu and one from Fiji were working on a German cargo ship which was seized by pirates on April 4.

One of the men managed to phone his sister who lives in Wellington.

Sapalina Samasoni says while they talked, a pirate was pushing a gun into her brother's back.

"He said that if they don't hear anything from Tuvalu or they didn't bring money they are going to shoot two of them," she said.

"There's nothing I can do. We just pray for him."

Reverend Suamalie Iosefa has been offering support, but he says the crisis has crippled his homeland.

About 40 per cent of Tuvaluan men work at sea, mainly for German shipping companies.

Reverend Iosefa says the entire population is now very scared.

"Eleven men in a population of around about 10,000 people is a lot," he said.

"And 11 men to us is one of the biggest resources for the family.

"These seafarers, when they go out, they support their family financially, so that's why the whole population of Tuvalu, they know what is happening.

"Everyone is in that same spirit, because we belong to one another, and we are just the one family."

Tuvalu is not only a tiny country, it is also one of the world's poorest.

Tuvaluan community leaders have pleaded for more assistance from their neighbours, Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has said that the men's plight is worrying.

"[We are] speaking to our international partners to see if there's anything New Zealand can do to assist, but at this time it's really a matter of showing our solidarity with others that we are very concerned by what we hear," he said.

Vamarosi Mausio, the mother of Wayne Suliana, who is the only Fijian amongst the group, continues to pray for good news.

"I'd like him to know that I love him. I'm doing all I can to bring him back," she said.

One rescue attempt has already failed. Last month the German Government sent in its elite combat force to storm the ship, but they abandoned the mission at the last moment after fears from America that it would all end in a bloodbath.

"I'd like to ask them to please let all these men go, and to think of them. They have their own families. So we don't want anything like this to happen to any of the families," said Vamarosi Mausio.
According to postings on the Tuvaluan Message Board on Yahoo, the names of the Tuvaluan seamen are as follows: Telava Tofiga, Pii Tiale, Wayne Suliane, Kaitu Leka, Logo Samasoni, Jack Taleka, Malologa Pulusi, Fiu Tui, Pule Hauma, Teraoi Richard, Olataga Safoka, and Mailagi Mapusaga.

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