Pablo Costas Villar, the Galician sailor trapped in Yemen for 11 months, has been released this Sunday, along with the rest of the crew of the Blanket. Sources from the Foreign Ministry have confirmed the information to this newspaper. The sailors have left the ship, docked in the port of Al Mukalla and in which they were obliged to stay until now, and have been transferred to a nearby hotel, waiting to be able to leave the country.
Ten months into the Yemen war: the story of a Galician sailor anchored in chaos without consular help
The crew of this fishing vessel had been held since September 26, 2020 in this port in southern Yemen, a country mired in an internal conflict that led to civil war in 2015. They arrived at the place following orders from the Somali businessman who bought the boat in June of last year and after making a stopover at the port of Bussaso to check the new documentation. Before that, the ship previously sailed under the Bolivian flag and owned by a Panamanian company.
Accused of illegal fishing by Australia, they were held in Yemen, where a trial was held in which they were sentenced to three months’ arrest. However, after that period, the authorization to leave did not arrive due to the appeal filed by a prosecutor. Last May, Costas Villas asked the Spanish diplomacy for help to be repatriated. Foreign Ministry assures that the minister, José Manuel Albares, has been involved in the efforts to achieve the release.
The situation worsened for the crew that remained on board the ship, who are Peruvian, Namibian, Indonesian and Senegalese. In all this time, the only one who managed to leave Yemen was a Russian first officer, evacuated in May by his country’s diplomacy. In addition to having to endure high temperatures on board, the food reserves were depleting until they were completely exhausted about ten days ago. Since then, the sailors could only consume water taken in the port and boiled several times to which they added tea and sugar.
The deterioration of the situation on board led Pablo Costas’s wife to submit writings requesting an intervention to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman. The Central Unitaria de Traballadoras (CUT) union, which has helped the sailor and his family in recent months, sent four humanitarian emergency communications to the Ministry and the Spanish embassy in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). The case provoked demonstrations of support in Bueu (Pontevedra), where Costas is from. The last was supported this Saturday by hundreds of people who demanded the repatriation of the captain of the Blanket.