SeafarerHelp Assisted Over 4300 Seafarers & Their Families in 2012

September 13, 2013

SeafarerHelp is the free 24 hour multilingual helpline for seafarers run by the International Seafarers' Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN). ISWAN have just produced the 2012 Annual Review for SeafarerHelp. During 2012 the SeafarerHelp team dealt with problems involving over 4,300 seafarers and their families. There was a 30% increase in the number of new cases handled by the SeafarerHelp team and an increase of 43% in the number of seafarers assisted compared to the previous year. The most common problems seafarers faced were upaid wages, problems with repatriation, contractual problems, sub-standard conditions on board and health issues.

Most of the contacts that SeafarerHelp receives are referred on to specialist organisations for direct assistance. These include the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and welfare organisations such as Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of The Sea, and the Sailors Society. Other agencies who assisted included national embassies, harbour authorities, and medical service providers.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said "The SeafarerHelp team did a great job in 2012 working around the clock everyday of the year assisting seafarers. We wish to thank our funders and other supporters for helping to provide this vital lifeline for seafarers all over the world."

One case where SeafarerHelp provided assistance involved forty Filipino crew, who had not been paid, on two ships owned by the same company. Both ships had been arrested and were at anchorage for more than two months. SeafarerHelp put the crew in touch with the local ITF representative and local welfare organisations. While waiting for the ships to be sold, the SeafarerHelp team maintained regular contact between the seafarers and the various organisations involved. After three months the crew were paid and repatriated.

2012 at a glance:

  • On average 2.5 new cases were received by the SeafarerHelp team everyday
  • The average number of seafarers involved in each case was 4.7
  • There was a 30% increase in the number of new cases handled and an increase of 43% in the number of seafarers assisted over those dealt with in 2011
  • In addition to new cases the SeafarerHelp team was working with approximately 250 on-going cases at any given time
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of cases coming to the
  • SeafarerHelp helpline for each of the last three years and there is a further
  • increase in cases in the first three months of 2013
  • The number of reported ship abandonments showed a significant increase in2012 from the number reported in 2011
  • The most common problems seafarers raised were unpaid wages, problems overrepatriation, contractual problems, sub standard conditions onboard and health
  • issues
  • Of the 76 different nationalities assisted the largest number were Filipinos,followed by Ukrainians, Indians and Russians
  • While the largest group of seafarers contacting SeafarerHelp were fromdeveloping world countries, 8% came from European Union and other developedworld countries and 14% came from Commonwealth member countries
  • We were contacted from 102 different countries
  • Although many cases involved more than one referral agency most were initially referred to the ITF Inspectors, followed by the ITF Maritime Operations Section,the Missions to Seafarers and the Apostleship of The Sea
  • Initial contact from seafarers to SeafarerHelp usually involved mobile or landlinephone calls, but internet communications are increasingly used as the preferred medium for follow-up communication

The Annual Review can be downloaded below along with a poster advertising SeafarerHelp. For more posters & cards promoting SeafarerHelp email

Seafarers can contact SeafarerHelp 24 hours, 365 days per year in the following ways:

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We are grateful to our main funders for their continued support: