Pirates to set Sri Lankans free

The cargo vessel was hijacked following a Hollywood-style chase on November 26, 2010.Since then, one crew member, an Indian, has died from cholera. While the others, seven Pakistanis including the captain, seven Sri Lankans, six Bangladeshis and one Iranian have survived the ordeal, each losing 20kg to 30kg.The pirates have agreed to refuel the ship and provide the supplies and provisions to reach the closest port. The two parties finally agreed on $50 per person per day as the expenses incurred by the pirates.Although the agreement has raised hopes of the families finally seeing their loved ones, there is still one obstacle to be overcome — arranging the amount and transferring it to the pirates within the April 20 deadline. Somali pirates have agreed to release the crew of a ship hijacked in November 2010 which includes seven Sri Lankans, the Gulf News reported.The cargo ship MV Albedo was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Although, no ransom is being paid, the representatives of the families, led by senior political leaders from Pakistan have successfully negotiated with the pirates to pay the expenses incurred by them since they were captured. “We have been in contact with the pirates through the tribal leaders of Somalia for the past several months and we made it clear to them that we are unable to pay the ransom, but we have agreed to pay the expenses incurred by them over the last 17 months,” said Ahmad Chinoy, Chief of the Citizens Police Liaison Committee in Sindh, Pakistan, who has been at the forefront of negotiations. The pirates had initially demanded a ransom of $10 million (Dh36.7 million), which the owner declined to pay and the families couldn’t afford. read more

Glaring social inequalities impede Latin American Caribbean development UN

“In the current context of globalization, competitiveness is crucial for growth and development,” the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jacques Diouf, told senior government officials attending the agency’s 28th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean in Guatemala City yesterday. “However, productivity should not conceal the inequalities of access to economic factors and the inequalities of income that affect millions of inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially those living in rural areas,” he said, noting that the richest 5 per cent receives 25 per cent of income, compared to 13 per cent in developed countries. Latest figures show poverty rising to 64 per cent in rural areas, with more than 74 million rural poor, but Mr. Diouf noted that the proportion of undernourished fell from 13 per cent in 1990-1992 to 10 per cent in 1999-2001. “If the countries continue their efforts to combat food insecurity, this proportion could fall to 6 per cent by 2015,” he said. “The initiatives undertaken by individual countries, notably the ‘Zero Hunger’ programme of Brazil and the ‘Campaign against Hunger’ recently launched by Guatemala, are very encouraging developments.” The weeklong conference will decide the main thrust of the work to be carried out by FAO’s regional office during 2004 and 2005 in a bid to consolidate gains and remedy shortfalls as part of the global effort to halve hunger levels by 2015. read more