INTRODUCTION: Forty-eight South Korean fishermen have been released by the Polisario Front, after almost a year in captivity, in the Western Sahara.
GV. GV & SV Fishermen standing in group in desert.
SV TILT UP Armed guard watches over fishermen. (2 SHOTS)
SV An official walks towards group.
SV Red Cross officials inspect documents.
SV & LV PAN Released fishermen walking towards tents (2 SHOTS)
SV Tent with open flap.
GV Red Cross workers carry in supplies.
SV Supplies handed out, and fishermen drinking from can. (2 SHOTS)
GVs Fishermen walking in compound area.
SV Fishermen climbing into the back of Land Rovers. (4 SHOTS)
TRACKING SHOT Land Rovers in convoy, crossing desert.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Forty-eight South Korean fishermen have been released by the Polisario Front, after almost a year in captivity, in the Western Sahara. They were captured while fishing in waters off the disputed territory and held prisoner in a desert camp.
SYNOPSIS: Freedom came for the men on Wednesday (17 June) when 48 of the original 51 prisoners were released. The South Korean ministry says one of the men died in captivity, and another two are unaccounted for.
Their captors, the Polisario Front are fighting Morocco over the sovereignty of the Western Sahara, and claim to have fishing rights off the coast.
The prisoners were handed over to representatives of the Red Crescent the Red Cross. The President of the Red Crescent in the Sahara, Mohamed Toua was in attendance, along with Mr. Peter Kung, the regional delegate for the Red Cross in North Africa. For the fishermen, this was their last day in the desert prison.
The South Koreans were not the only fishermen taken prisoner by the Polisario Front last year. Despite patrols by Spanish gunboats, three Spanish fishing vessels were captured between May and September. Fifteen Portuguese fishermen also were taken prisoner in July and were not released for nearly two months.
This was one day when the fishermen did not mind the searing desert heat. Their thoughts were of going home to families and friends they hadn't seen in almost a year. Packed into the back of a convoy of Land Rovers, the men were taken to Tindouf in Algeria. After a brief medical check in Algiers, they were put on a plane for Geneva, where they were cared for by South Korean Embassy officials.
The fishermen were to fly back to South Korea on Sunday (21 June).