A seafarer in distress- Samuel's story

September 13, 2016
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Our SeafarerHelp Team are trained to deal with a variety of cases calmly and effectively. Sometimes they deal with the case themselves and other times they will refer it to other organisations to assist. The cases the team deal with can vary from simple requests for information, wages issues, repatriation, emotional problems, or issues such as a health problems or a death on board.

In some cases, a seafarer’s situation may need financial support. In desperate cases, where no other help is available, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) can be applied for. The SEF can make grants from $250 to $5000 US dollars. Applications must be made by organisations on behalf of seafarers in dire need and they must meet the SEF criteria.

One such case was Samuel*. Samuel had been working on board a vessel, but had not received any wages for over 7 months. 21 other crewmembers were also left without wages. Having received assistance from the ITF, the vessel was eventually detained in port under the terms of the MLC 2006. The crew had taken the ship-owners to court to try and claim their wages, but in the meantime were living in the local seafarer centre, supported by the ITF inspector and the local mission. Samuel was a long way from home, and had no way to support his family.

Samuel’s daughter was very ill with cancer. She had been receiving chemotherapy, but without Samuel’s wages, the family could no longer afford to pay for her essential medical treatment. The ITF and the seaman’s union from Samuels’s home country made the application to the SEF on behalf of Samuel and his family. The application was granted, and $5000 dollars was paid to the hospital where the daughter was receiving treatment. The hospital continued her medical care and she was discharged from hospital not long after.

If you or a family member are a seafarer in distress orhave some other problem visitwww.seafarerhelp.organd we will do our best to help.

For more information about our work visit

For more information about the Seafarer Emergency Fund, and how to apply, visit here

*name has been changed for privacy

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