DFA: Efforts underway for release of 17 seafarers held by Houthi in Yemen

DFA: Efforts underway for release of 17 seafarers held by Houthi in Yemen
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THE Philippine government reassured on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, the families of the 17 Filipino seafarers who remain in captivity of Houthi rebels in Yemen that efforts are being exerted for their release and that they have not been forgotten.

In a press briefing, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said the seafarers, who were crew members of the Galaxy Leader, are still being held in Hodeidah for over a hundred days already by the Houthis.

“And we are still working with friendly governments if they could be released but the Houthis are consistent in their statement that it would need an end to the war in Gaza before they will release the ship and the seafarers,” he said.

“I want to take the opportunity in this occasion to ensure the families that we haven’t forgotten them. Ginagawa namin lahat ng magagawa (We have been doing everything that we can do) although it’s not just really a Philippine issue, it’s a global issue at ‘yung DMW (Department of Migrant Workers) palaging nakikipagpulong sa mga pamilya para bigyan sila ng updates (has been coordinating with the families to give them updates),” he added.

Although the seafarers were not in the best condition, De Vega said they are safe and are able to communicate with their families.

In November 2023, in retaliation for Israel’s offensive in Gaza, Houthi rebels seized the cargo vessel Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea and took hostage its 25 crewmembers, including 17 Filipinos.

The rebels assured that they would not harm their foreign hostages but it would need an end to the war in Gaza before they will release the ship and the seafarers.

Meanwhile, De Vega expressed confidence that Germany will be providing Filipino seafarers the highest protection.

He made the statement following the Houthi attack in the Gulf of Aden last week that resulted in the killing of two Filipino crew members of True Confidence, a bulk carrier ship. Four others were wounded in the missile attack.

Eleven of the victims’ fellow seafarers have been repatriated back to the Philippines.

“Of course, ang expectation natin, we’re not going to tell Germany what to do, obviously. We’re not going to tell them to join the coalition or what, but we do expect and they will ensure that for ships bound for Germany, for example, German ports, German-flagged vessels that they will give the highest protection to our seafarers,” he said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. arrived in. Germany on Monday, March 11, 2024, for an official visit.

During the President’s visit, the Philippines and Germany will be signing a joint declaration of intent on strengthening cooperation in maritime sector, facilitating maritime trade, and mobility of Philippine and German-owned vessels. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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