Tags: hostage | somalia | british | government

Somali Hostages Appeal to British Government

Thursday, 27 May 2010 11:31 AM

LONDON — A British couple held hostage in Somalia appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron's government to help free them, in an interview aired on Wednesday, but London again insisted it would not talk to hostage-takers.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, who appeared in reasonable health in the video and were back together after being separated, said they wanted Cameron to clarify Britain's position seven months after their abduction.

"I would like to say congratulations to David Cameron first. As the new prime minister we desperately need him to make a definitive public statement of the government's attitude to us," said Paul Chandler.

"We are two British citizens, we have been kidnapped in the Seychelles which was a perfectly safe place to be," he added in the interview, broadcast by Channel 4 News.

And the 60-year-old said: "If the government is not prepared to help then they must say so because the gangsters' expectations and hopes have been raised by the thought of a new government. There might be a different approach."

The couple, who were seized when their yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on October 23, have expressed their fear in previous messages that they would be killed if a ransom is not paid.

Despite the fresh appeal, the Foreign Office stuck to its long-held position that it would not make concessions to kidnappers.

"The UK government's policy of not making or facilitating substantive concessions to hostage-takers, including the payment of ransoms, is long-standing and clear," said a spokesman.

"This has been the policy of successive governments and has not changed.

"Our thoughts are with their families on the release of this video, and our consular officials are in close touch with them. We again urge those holding Paul and Rachel to release them safely, immediately and unconditionally."

The latest video, of an interview conducted by a Somali journalist last Thursday after the couple was driven to an undisclosed location, showed them sitting together on blue chairs against a scrub-like landscape.

Paul Chandler smiled nervously, while his wife at one stage seemed close to tears when describing the first days of their captivity.

The pair have been separated on two occasions, they said -- on one they were whipped for refusing to split up, while Rachel Chandler, 56, showed a chipped front tooth where she was hit with a rifle butt.

"The second time we were separated we refused to be separated initially, and that was a bit silly," said Paul Chandler.

"We were physically separated, we were whipped and Rachel was hit with a rifle butt and has a broken tooth."

He added that was the only time there was "any real aggression" directed at them.

Rachel Chandler said they had been treated like animals by their captors.

"We have been kept caged up like animals. They don't care about our feelings and our family and our lives and what they've taken.

"They don't care whose lives they ruin. They just want the money."

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Africa
LONDON — A British couple held hostage in Somalia appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron's government to help free them, in an interview aired on Wednesday, but London again insisted it would not talk to hostage-takers.
hostage,somalia,british,government
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2010-31-27
Thursday, 27 May 2010 11:31 AM
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