Husband hostage in Yemen, wife in a bunker in Ukraine

Many people around the world are going through difficult times because of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. But the misery of a couple from Kerala is unparalleled.

While Mr Akhil Raghu, 25, has been taken hostage by Houthi rebels in Yemen, his wife Jithina, 23, has taken shelter in a bunker at the Kyiv Medical University in Ukraine.

The Malayalees hail from Cheppad village, near Haripad in Kerala's Alappuzha district.

Mr Akhil, a deck cadet, was aboard the United Arab Emirates-flagged ship Rawabee - owned by Liwa Marine - when it was hijacked from the Red Sea on Dec 31 last year.

The ship was carrying components of a field hospital from Yemen's Socotra island to Jazan in Saudi Arabia.

The cargo included ambulances, medical communication equipment, tents and technical and security support equipment, the Saudi government said.

However, the rebels claimed the ship was carrying military equipment to fight them and seized it.

Mr Akhil has since been under the rebels' custody.

His brother Rahul told indiatimes.com that Mr Akhil has contacted the family a few times from Sanaa port in Yemen where the ship is anchored under the control of the 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 Mr Rahul, who is employed with a marine company in Dubai.

Mr Akhil and Ms Jithina were married on Aug 20 last year and left for their overseas bases in September, Mr Rahul said.

Other family members said they have sent multiple memorandums to Union ministers, MPs and legislators, but nothing has been done to free Mr Akhil.

Following the Russian attacks on Ukraine, Ms Jithina, who went to Kyiv to study medicine, is now staying in a bunker in the Ukrainian capital along with five other students from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In a video that she sent to her father, Ms Jithina revealed that they are running short of water and food.

The final-year undergraduate plans to move out when the Russian air strikes ease and cross over to Poland by road. From there, she hopes to catch a flight to India.

Indo-Asian News Service

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