PRESS RELEASE - from the LMA and Liberty Syndicates
30 May 2013
Former hostage tells Lloyd’s underwriters of suffering at hands of pirates
Underwriters at the Lloyd’s of London insurance market have heard a vivid first-hand account of the plight of seafarers taken hostage by modern-day pirates.
Mr Chirag Bahri was second engineer on a chemical tanker, M.T, Marida Marguerite, which was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on 8 May 2010. Forced at gunpoint by the pirates to take the vessel to the coast of Somalia, the ship was then boarded by up to 40 pirates and the crew held hostage in appalling conditions until negotiations for their release concluded almost eight months later.
Now South Asia regional director for charity Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), Mr Bahri was invited to Lloyd’s by Liberty Syndicates and spoke movingly about his seven months and 20 days in captivity and the ordeal he and his crew mates endured at the hands of their captors.
Mr Bahri told over 200 underwriters and staff in the Lloyd’s Building how he was:
- beaten and tortured frequently
- threatened with execution
- allowed only three phone calls in almost eight months
- deprived of basic human rights
- forced to work a daily 12-hour shift in the engine room maintaining the vessel.
During his presentation, Mr Bahri emphasised the intense psychological and physical impact of seizure on the crew. He also talked about the extreme distress suffered by families of crew members and the financial problems they suffered.
Mr Bahri explained how MPHRP tries to alleviate some of the problems by offering support to hostages’ families and working with the maritime industry to ensure crews are better prepared to deal with pirate attacks. This work includes training crews in techniques that will help them if taken hostage, assisting with repatriation and providing post-release support and counselling.
Mr Bahri’s visit to Lloyd’s was sponsored by Liberty Syndicates after Head of Marine Simon Clapham and underwriter Rob Henbury heard him address an audience in Oslo. Simon Clapham said: “We were hugely impressed by Chirag and felt it was important that Lloyd’s underwriters heard his story and learned about the role of the MPHRP. The seafarers’ families are very much the invisible victims of piracy and they must not be forgotten. I’m delighted to announce that Liberty Syndicates has agreed to make a financial donation to MPHRP’s response fund in order to help finance this vital work.”
Asked by the audience about the length of time taken to conclude negotiations with Somali pirates, MPHRP chairman Dr Peter Swift acknowledged the tensions created by ship owners wanting a swift return of their vessel, hostages wanting rapid release and negotiators conscious that rapid payment of the kidnappers’ initial ransom demand could validate the kidnappers’ actions and create an unhelpful precedent. He said: “These are conflicting interests but we urge everyone involved to remember that there are people on those ships suffering and family members at home suffering.”
Dr Swift said that since 2007, almost 4,000 seafarers had been held hostage. Currently he said MPHRP was aware of 73 hostages in Somalia with an average time in captivity of over 700 days.
Each year, around 20,000 different ships transit the Gulf of Aden placing 300,000 seafarers at risk of pirate attack.
The event at Lloyd’s Old Library on Wednesday 15 May was hosted by the London insurance market’s Joint War Committee, which represents members of both the Lloyd’s Market Association and the International Underwriting Association. It was chaired by Liberty Syndicates’ Rob Henbury.
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Notes to Editors
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About The Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA)
Formed in 2001 and located in the heart of the Lloyd’s Building in the City of London, the Lloyd's Market Association represents the interests of the Lloyd’s underwriting community. All underwriting businesses at Lloyd’s are members, together managing gross premium income of around £24 billion per annum.
About Liberty Syndicates
Liberty Syndicates is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Liberty Mutual Group and is one of the leading Managing Agents operating in the Lloyd’s market. It was established in 1994 and, backed by Liberty Corporate Capital Ltd, it was one of the first corporate vehicles at Lloyd’s, managing Syndicate 190 for the 1995 account and Syndicate 282 for the 1996 account. The two Syndicates were merged to create Syndicate 4472, which commenced underwriting in January 2005. Since 2001, the combined capacity of the Syndicate has grown from £384m to £910m in 2011.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance
"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston‐based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2012 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 81st on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2012 revenue. As of December 31, 2012, Liberty Mutual Insurance had $120.1 billion in consolidated assets, $101.5 billion in consolidated liabilities, and $36.9 billion in annual consolidated revenue.
Liberty Mutual Insurance offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including personal automobile, homeowners, workers compensation, property, commercial automobile, general liability, global specialty, group disability, reinsurance and surety. Liberty Mutual Insurance (www.libertymutualinsurance.com) employs over 50,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world.