Kerala family's tale of two wars: Man hostage in Yemen, wife inside bunker in Ukraine

The misery of this Kayamkulam family knows no bounds. Akhil Reghu, a deck cadet with a UAE-flagged ship, has been taken hostage by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Published: 26th February 2022 06:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th February 2022 06:16 AM   |  A+A-

Akhil with Jithina

Express News Service

ALAPPUZHA: The misery of this Kayamkulam family knows no bounds. Akhil Reghu, a deck cadet with a UAE-flagged ship, has been taken hostage by Houthi rebels in Yemen. His wife, Jithina, a final-year undergraduate, has taken shelter in a bunker at the Kyiv Medical University in Ukraine.

Akhil, a resident of Avoor, was aboard the ship Rawabee -- owned by Liwa Marine -- that was hijacked from the Red Sea on December 31 last year, and has been under the rebels’ custody for nearly two months.

Jithina of Ramapuram has been left stranded in the Ukrainian capital after Russia launched a military campaign there two days ago. Akhil’s brother, Rahul, said that he has contacted the family a few times from the Sanaa port, where the ship is anchored under the control of rebels.

“He says that he is safe, but there has been no move to rescue him and the other 14 crew members, including six Indians,” said Rahul, who too is employed with the UAE company on another ship, over the phone from Dubai. Akhil and Jithina were married on August 20 last year, and left for their overseas bases in September, Rahul said.

“Akhil rejoined the company after 14 days of quarantine on October 10. We have sent memorandums to union ministers, MPs, and MLAs, but no action has been taken to rescue him. Now my sister-in-law too is in a war zone, leaving our family worried,” he said. The ship -- carrying components of a Saudi Arabia field hospital from Yemen’s Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean to Jazan, south of Saudi -- was hijacked near the port city of Hodeidah, around 50km off the Yemen coast.

The cargo includes ambulances, medical communication equipment, tents as well as technical and security support equipments, the Saudi government has clarified. However, the rebels have said that the ship was carrying military equipment to fight the Houthis.



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