To the 31 crew members who remain detained on board the ship Blanket In a port in southern Yemen they have run out of supplies, as warned last week that their captain, the Galician Pablo Costas Villar, would happen. The only thing that they are ingesting right now is water that they obtain in the port without guarantee of health and that they boil several times before adding sugar to it. The desperate situation has led the woman from Costas to request protection from the Ombudsman, before whom she exposes the “absolute lack of protection” of her husband and her companions, trapped for 11 months as a result of a complaint of illegal fishing by Australia. In the letter he denounces that the fundamental rights of the crew members are being violated and “leading them to the greatest physical and personal degradation that a human being can endure.”
The Galician sailor detained in Yemen: “We don’t have food for more than two days, we can’t take any more”
The woman from Costas goes to this institution after having already addressed a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “They limit themselves to telling us that they are doing everything possible to resolve the issue, but they have been telling Pablo about it for almost three months -when the sailor asked the Spanish diplomacy for help-“, protests in the letter, in which he asks to the Ombudsman to intervene to ensure that her husband is repatriated.
The ship arrived at the port of Al Mukalla at the end of September 2020. Due to the complaint of illegal fishing in Australia, the captain was arrested, tried and sentenced to three months of arrest, already served. But an appeal from the prosecutor paralyzed the process for the sailors to leave the country. In response to the letter from Pablo Costas’s wife, Foreign Ministry stated that the repatriation “is subject to the pending case being resolved and authorized by the competent judicial authorities.” The woman considers that it “draws powerfully attention” that it is justified in this way that her husband cannot be repatriated and raises several questions about why a complaint from Australia leads to a trial in Yemen and why they have not yet received documentation on the case.
In his writing, he recalls that Yemen has been mired in a civil war since 2014. Legal certainty “does not exist” and in the judicial process opened against her husband it has not been possible to understand with the lawyer because “apparently he only uses Arabic.” The judicial decisions have not been communicated to Pablo Costas, he adds. She insists that the “defenselessness” in which her husband finds himself has been denounced on several occasions, both before the Spanish consulates in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Muscat (Oman) and before the ministry.
The Central Unitaria de Traballadoras union (CUT), which has provided help to Pablo Costas’ wife in recent months, has just sent a new humanitarian emergency communication, the third, to Foreign Affairs to indicate that on board the Blanket there is no food left. The captain himself tells in a voice note sent via WhatsApp to this newsroom his current situation and explains that they only have sugar left and that they get water in the port “without guarantees” of its health, so they boil it before drinking it. They have skin irritations because they cannot be washed. “It is a lack of attendance, a lack of communication and total uncertainty,” he protests. The months of waiting and the lack of news take a toll on the sailors’ spirits: “Here we are, getting worse and worse. The only way out will be seriously ill or dead.” The sailor now defines his situation as “a kidnapping.”
The last meal of the 31 crewmembers was on Monday. Some Indian sailors who arrived in another boat at the port of Al Mukalla had read in the press about the situation of the Blanket and they gave them some meat and tuna, but the reserves have already run out. In the document, sent by the Galician captain’s wife to the Ombudsman, he considers that the lack of food and water supply is “an accessory penalty without the support of any regulations that protect it.” “My husband has never had legal assistance in accordance with the law. And this despite having requested it from the Spanish consulates in Riyadh and Muscat,” he criticizes.