By Adow Mohamed

Somali pirates are holding five Kenyans for ransom, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has said.

In a 28-page brief presented to the UN Security Council, he did not, however, give the names of the hostages.

He also did not explain the circumstances under which they were abducted.

The UN chief said only one Kenyan, James Kuria, was released by the pirates in 2016.

Kuria was in captivity with Lois Weru, who is still in the hands of the Indian Ocean pirates.

She was delivering medicine in Somalia.

Ban said Kuria was freed after Somali security forces raided a village where the two Kenyans were being held in February.

“The Kenyan woman is still being held. Dhows and foreign fishing vessels have become the main targets of Somali pirates in the past year,” Ki-moon said.

According to the report, pirates are holding 39 seafarers from foreign-registered vessels as captives. They include 26 from an Omani ship, 10 from an Iranian ship and three from a Yemeni vessel.

No seafarers from large commercial ships are currently being held by Somali pirates, the outgoing UN leader said.

The report covers the period ending September 30.

“More than three years have passed since Somali pirates successfully hijacked and held a large commercial vessel for ransom,” Ban told the principal organ of the United Nations.

Strong international armed patrols and anti-piracy policies from the regional states, such as Puntland, have helped reduce large-scale piracy, the report said.

It said the threat of attacks on ships in waters off Somalia remains substantial.

In May, the International Maritime Bureau warned foreign ships sailing near Somalia’s coast to remain vigilant, despite a drop in piracy attacks in the Horn of Africa.

“The lack of economic opportunity has been identified by [Somalia’s] federal government and international partners as the principal driver of pirate recruitment. It is notable that the criminal networks behind piracy remain undefeated,” the report said.




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