Yacht couple held hostage since October speak out; Miliband says 'We're working very hard'

The British couple kidnapped by Somali pirates in October last year have made an appeal for ‘urgent help’, according to reports.

“Please help us, these people are not treating us well,” Rachel Chandler told an Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter on Thursday (28th January). She was captured by pirates with her husband Paul from their yacht, Lynn Rival, in the Indian Ocean on October 23rd.
They are being held in separate locations in central Somalia. Rachel Chandler made her plea to a surgeon who persuaded pirates to let him visit the couple on Thursday. The surgeon, Mohamed Helmi “Hangul”, said Rachel Chandler was in poor mental and physical health. “She is sick, she is very anxious, she suffers from insomnia,” Hangul told AFP. “But I think she’s mainly mentally unwell, it seems. She’s very confused, she’s always asking about her husband – and she seems completely disorientated,” he added. 

Rachel Chandler was quoted as saying: “I’m old, I’m 56 and my husband is 60 years old. We need to be together because we have not much time left”. Paul Chandler appeared psychologically more robust than his wife but admitted the conditions of their detention were difficult and he also pleaded for help. “Please help us, we have nobody to help us, we have no children… We have been in captivity for 98 days and we are not in good condition,” he said.

The surgeon explained that it took him three weeks to get authorisation from the kidnappers to visit the Chandlers. He said he was not allowed to bring drugs with him but left a prescription with the captors.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are monitoring the situation very closely and doing everything we can to help secure a release. We remain in regular contact with the family and are providing support. We call for the safe and swift release of Paul and Rachel.’

UPDATE: Speaking on Sky News today (Monday), Foreign Secretary
David Miliband said:  I’m pleased to say that we are working very closely with the Chandler family here in the UK.  Obviously there’s a very high level of concern.  We’re using all of the networks that we do have in that part of the world, political and diplomatic, and we’ve been very clear with the Chandlers here about how we’re doing that.
Obviously none of us are going to be satisfied until the Chandlers are safely home and that’s why we’re working very hard on this case.’