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British hostages: We're being badly treated

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British hostages losing hope
  • British couple kidnapped by Somalian pirates issue another plea for help
  • Paul and Rachel Chandler say they are being poorly treated and need urgent help
  • Chandlers were taken from their yacht by pirates in October
  • Pirates have demanded ransom of $7 million
  • Pirates
  • Somalia
  • Seychelles

(CNN) -- A British couple kidnapped by Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean have issued another desperate plea, saying they are being badly treated and need urgent help.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, from Kent in southern England, were taken by pirates from their yacht, the Lynn Rival, on October 23, just days after setting sail from the Seychelles islands for Tanzania.

The couple was brought ashore and are being held in separate locations in central Somalia.

Their captors initially demanded a ransom of $7 million, but the British government -- in line with longstanding policy -- has refused to pay.

In a video filmed on Thursday in Somalia by the French news agency AFP, Rachel Chandler begged the British government to help secure the couple's release.

"Please help us, these people are not treating us well," she said. "I'm old, I'm 56 and my husband is 60 years old. We need to be together because we have not much time left."

A doctor was shown examining Paul Chandler, 60, who appeared to be in a better state than his wife. The medic found Rachel Chandler in poor mental health, calling out for her husband, AFP reported.

"She is sick, she is very anxious, she suffers from insomnia," Dr. Mohamed Helmi Hangul told the agency. "She's very confused, she's always asking about her husband -- 'Where's my husband, where's my husband?' -- and she seems completely disorientated."

Paul Chandler said his conditions were poor and also pleaded for help. "Please help us, we have nobody to help us, we have no children... We have been in captivity for 98 days and we are not in good condition," he said, also on Thursday.

Hangul said Paul Chandler "had a bad cough and seemed to have some fever."

A spokesman for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office told CNN on Sunday: "We are monitoring the situation very closely and doing everything we can to help secure a release.

"We remain in regular contact with the family and are providing support. We call for the safe and swift release of Paul and Rachel."

Pirates have been very active off the east coast of Africa in the past several years, operating out of lawless Somalia.

Earlier this month, pirates attempted to hijack an Indian crude oil vessel 105 nautical miles from Somalia, the EU's anti-piracy naval force said. The pirates opened fire on the ship and were later arrested.

Piracy on the high-seas reached a six-year high in 2009, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crimes.

CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.