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Pakistani sailor returns home after six months in war-torn Yemen

Published: Updated:

After six months in war-torn Yemen Kabir Hussain has finally returned home to Karachi. Hussein, who was the chief officer of the MV Jouya 8, a cargo ship, spoke about his experience to the Dawn newspaper.

The report quoted Kabir as saying that on November 9, 2016 he and 7 other crew members set out for Iran, as it was the flag-bearer of the cargo, and then a port in Egypt. However, midway through the journey the captain was informed that the cargo agreement had been canceled and they had to return to Iran.

On December 4 they made their way to Yemen as the ship’s fresh water supply was diminishing and the engine was beginning to overheat.

Missile attack

The ship was 4 nautical miles away from the port in Yemen and began opening the anchor, then at 5:55pm the ship was hit and began to rock. A missile attack soon followed and caused the ship to begin sinking, the report quoted Kabir.

Kabir could only see one other crew member, Sohail, who was slumped over and was not letting Kabir approach him. He jumped overboard as the ship was quickly sinking.

When the ship had sunk completely Kabir grabbed onto a cargo pallet and began searching for the others. He explains in the report that he saw Sohail drifting nearby and grabbed him, believing he would survive.

Kabir’s head and legs were full of small pellets and his right hand was cut open, the report said. Eventually he saw a distant light that was drawing closer, soon a boat came past them.

Kabir says the men who rescued him were armed and wore camouflage uniforms, and on the way to the hospital he was becoming fearful. When he arrived at the hospital he saw other victims of the bombing, the report said.

Kabir explains how he kept asking if Sohail had survived and was told that there was chance he could. However, Suhail had died and Kabir was not told since he was already in shock.

Transfer to Hudaydah

Two days later Kabir states that he was transported to Hudaydah, were he would spend 6 months, for additional surveillance. Saudi Arabia was claiming MV Jouya 8 with the aid of Iran, who refuted the claim, had been transporting weapons for Houthi militias.

Yemeni rescue operation resulted in the recovery of 6 crew members from the ship, and were taken to a military hospital in Hudaydah.

In February Kabir was told that the Red Cross and International Organization for Migrants was looking into his case. Finally, on June 3 Kabir returned home to Karachi.

The Dawn quotes Kaneez Fatima, Kamir’s wife, as saying that no one communicated anything about her husband with her and that all she received was a month’s salary.

Kabir’s only wish now is that the Pakistani government ensures return of other crew members that are still at the military hospital in Yemen.