Chandlers forgive, and seek help for Somalia

Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple held captive by Somali pirates for more than a year after their yacht was hijacked, want to make closer contact with the people of Somalia and try to persuade the international community to help restore law and order in their country.
“People will expect us to want these people dead,” 56-year-old Mrs Chandler told The Mail on Sunday. “But we do not. We want to follow what happens in Somalia and do what little we can to help people there lead peaceful and secure lives one day. That way, our suffering will not be in vain.”
As far as the armed pirates who snatched them from their 38ft sailboat off the Seychelles last October are concerned, she said: “We know what happened to us at the hands of criminals is not part of the culture or religion. We are happy to be free now and meet the civilised, decent, everyday people of this country. Even those misguided young men who held us for so long could be helped if they had education instead of brutality.”
The couple, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, were handed over to local officials in the Somali town of Adado last Sunday after a ransom of up to $1m (£620,000) was reportedly paid to their kidnappers.
Mrs Chandler, a former economist, admitted there were moments during their 388-day ordeal when they feared they would never be freed alive. She said the worst period was when the pirates separated them, so they each spent three months in solitary confinement. “There were times of total despair,” she went on. “We thought we would never see our families or friends again.”After their release, doctors said they were suffering from dehydration and high blood pressure but had not come to any physical harm. Mrs Chandler said she and her husband were both “survivors”, adding: “We are naturally fit, exercising regularly and eating healthily, and that has helped us through. We managed to do some yoga and aerobic exercise.”
The Chandlers have also said they want to sail again. Soon, they plan to travel down to Poole harbour, in Dorset, to check on Lynn Rival, the first time they will have seen their yacht since the Royal Navy winched it up from the Indian Ocean and brought it back to England.


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