500 sailors on board 100 ships remain trapped in Ukraine

Bangladeshi seafarers are repatriated after their ship was attacked and an officer killed (Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers’ Association)

Posted on May 3, 2022 4:54 PM by

The Maritime Executive

More than two months after the invasion of Ukraine, the International Chamber of Shipping reports that despite progress, a significant number of seafarers and ships remain trapped and at risk. Working with the United Nations, the ICS prepared data illustrating the danger while reviving calls for action to facilitate the evacuation of the remaining seafarers.

The ICS expects about 500 seafarers to be stranded on ships stranded in Ukrainian ports. They believe that up to three-quarters of the seafarers have now been evacuated from their ships. The ICS commended the rescue efforts by flag states, port states and employment agencies, as well as governments, shipowners, unions, international aid organizations and seafarers’ charities.

“While we are relieved that approximately 1,500 people have been successfully evacuated, our focus is on those who remain on board,” said Natalie Shaw, director of employment affairs at ICS. “We will continue to do everything in our power to facilitate their safe departure from the affected areas, and in the meantime are working with aid organizations to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those still affected.”

A month after the conflict began, the ICS reported that it believed 2,000 seafarers were stranded aboard ships in Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov. They point to the success of removing many of these seafarers while emphasizing that many ships only have emergency crews on board. The urgency has increased as Russia continues to bombard many of the seaports. While only confirming what was already happening, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry this week also issued a new order to keep the seaports of Mariupol, Kherson, Berdiansk and Skadovsk closed “until Ukraine regains control over them.”

The ICS calculates that 74 or more ships are stranded in or near the major seaports of Mykolaiv (25), Chornomorsk (23), Kherson (16) and Odessa (10). They report that actual numbers may vary as some ships have turned off their AIS. In addition, there are a smaller number of ships in local ports, including Berdyansk (8), Pivdennyi (6), Mariupol (5), Nika Tera (2), Ochakiv (2), Izmail (1) and Yuzhny Anchorage (1) . .

The majority of the ships are either bulk carriers or cargo ships, with the ICS estimating the number to be between 99 and possibly 109. Other ships include oil tankers, chemical tankers, tugboats, RoRo cargo, an icebreaker, and motor hoppers.

Many of the seafarers were able to catch evacuation flights or board buses from the ports, but others remain in Ukraine awaiting evacuation and repatriation. In addition, they highlight that other seafarers stayed behind as emergency crews to service the ships while allowing their fellow crew members to escape.

While the International Labor Organization (ILO), IMO, UNHCR and humanitarian organizations have coordinated deliveries of food, water and medicines to the remaining crew, the ICS warns that not all supplies are reaching the seafarers. The affected seafarers, both those evacuated and those remaining on board, hail from 27 different countries, with most originating from the Philippines and India. Other affected seafarers’ nationalities are Ukrainians, Russians, Chinese, Danish, Greeks and Turks.

The ICS, along with the UN Secretary-General, continues to push for the creation and maintenance of humanitarian corridors until all remaining seafarers have been safely evacuated.

About Christine Geisler

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