In a novel initiative, three city based maritime organisations have launched a trauma management care unit for seafarers, subjected to captivity and torture by pirates.

The objective of the unit is to reach out to the affected families and treat the seafarers after their release to ensure a quick recovery from the psychological trauma.

The unit will be mobile and consist of psychoanalysts, trained to deal with such cases involving piracy inflicted scars.

Captain A. Gole, Secretary, Company of Master Mariners of India, (CMMI) Pune chapter, said: “As per our data till February this year, as many as 47 Indian seafarers are in captivity of Somalian pirates and efforts are being made to secure their release.”

The unit is the outcome of a joint venture of three merchant navy related institutions — CMMI, Institute of Marine Engineers, Pune, and Indian Maritime Foundation.

“A seafarer is a rugged person who is used to the rough and tough sea life and is always ready to brave a storm. But being taken in captivity and subjected to torture and starvation is a different proposition and, therefore, a mental trauma care is necessary,” said Captain. Gole elaborating on the requirement of such a unit.

He said the trauma management care unit has at present identified three seafarers from Maharashtra who are being held in captivity and was trying to reach out to their families to offer necessary help and support.

Even after the release, it is important that the family members of the sailors are counselled as to how to approach and deal with them once they are back home after prolonged captivity.

“We are trying to rope in shipping companies to support this venture and expecting a good response as they too care for their employees,” Mr Gole added.

As per the information available, out of the global figure of over 80,000 merchant vessels, about 1,000 are owned by Indian companies with about 15,000 maritime professionals.

(This article was published on July 7, 2012)
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