cesaretech (cesaretech) wrote in ontd_political,

British couple held by Somali pirates for 100 days appeal for help

British Couple Held by Somali Pirates for 100 Days Appeal for Help:

Alone, frightened and increasingly desperate, a gaunt Rachel Chandler spoke of her "cruel" treatment at the hands of her Somali kidnappers in a video released today appealing for help.

It has been 100 days since she was seized by pirates along with her husband, Paul, as they sailed their yacht, the Lynn Rival, on a tour of the Indian ocean, part of a round-the-world dream voyage.

Today, in a film shot by a news agency, her accelerating sickness and distress at being separated from her husband is clear.

"It's very hard to know what to do to stay sane," she told a surgeon who was allowed to briefly examine the pair, now being held in different locations in rugged areas between the coastal village of Elhur and the small town of Amara inland.

"If I was with my husband then I would feel a lot better. It's because I'm not with my husband that I'm feeling lonely and desperate and I'm finding it difficult to sleep and carry on through the day."

Sky News, which obtained the footage, reported that Rachel Chandler, an ­economist from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, was under round-the-clock armed guard, had no privacy, and had been moved every few days.

A separate film of Paul Chandler, taken in the bush, shows him asking to be with his wife and making a direct appeal to the British government for help. The ­separation of the couple, after a stall in negotiations, will put more pressure on their relatives and will make it more ­difficult for any potential rescue to be ­carried out.

Last month it was reported that the couple were on the verge of being freed for a £100,000 ransom, a fraction of the £4.3m originally demanded, before the deal fell through.

In the last footage of the couple together, in November, they appeared healthy, but told Channel 4 news that they feared they could be killed within "three to four" days.

But in today's film, Rachel Chandler is almost skeletally thin
. Seen asking her captors, who are out of shot, about progress over help, she looks distracted and combs her hands through her hair as she tells them of her need to be reunited with her husband. "I'm very, very frightened. But you know that, as I've said before, I need to be with Paul. We are husband and wife, we've always been together, we look after one another. I'm 55, soon 56 years old and my husband is 60 – we are not young people and these people are treating us so cruelly."

With her hands clenched, she says: "It's very difficult. It's very hard to keep going. I hope."

Somali doctor Abdi Mohamed Helmi "Hangul", who examined the couple on Thursday, said he was concerned about her poor mental and physical health.

"She is sick, she is very anxious, she suffers from insomnia," Hangul said. "But I think she's mainly mentally unwell, it seems. She's very confused, she's always asking about her husband – 'Where's my husband, where's my husband?' – and she seems completely disorientated."

Paul Chandler, who is seen on a separate video, which is barely audible in parts, said: "I don't know what to do. Will somebody please help? I just want to say, please, to my government, get me and my wife out of here."

"We are innocent and we have done no wrong. We have no money and we can't pay a ransom."

The couple were captured as they sailed from the Seychelles towards Tanzania. They were forced to sail towards Somalia before being moved on to a hijacked container ship, the Kota Wajar. The couple have since been brought ashore.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and doing everything we can to help secure a release. We remain in regular contact with the family and are providing support. We call for the safe and swift release of Peter and Rachel."

Last week, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, insisted the government would not get involved in any ransom payments to secure the Chandlers' release.

He said he could not stop private individuals from pursuing a ransom deal, but it was not in Britain's interests to make concessions to hostage-takers.

His comments came after the Chandlers feared they could be killed within days and pleaded for help in a "desperate situation".

The pirates have said that if the British government will not help, then the couple's friends should raise the money.

Peter Lehr, a lecturer in terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews and editor of Violence at Sea: Piracy in the Age of Global Terrorism, told Sky he believed the pirates separated the couple to put psychological pressure on the relatives and the UK government, and to "show they mean business".

However, he said that he still had a "high degree of confidence" that the Chandlers would be released as long as "no official sources interfere".


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