The heads of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have called for urgent action to protect seafarers and vessels stranded in Ukrainian ports and nearby waters following the Russian aggression against the country.
In a joint letter to the heads of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder and IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, outline the plight of seafarers on more than 100 trading vessels who are unable to leave the ports of Ukraine and nearby waters.
According to the IMO, as many as 1,000 seafarers are trapped, including in the besieged city of Mariupol, and on vessels in the Sea of Azov.
‘As well as the dangers arising from bombardment, many of the ships concerned now lack food, fuel, fresh water and other vital supplies. The situation of the seafarers from many countries is becoming increasingly untenable as a result, presenting grave risks to their health and well-being.’
The letter asks the three agencies to ‘take urgent action’ to assist in the reprovisioning of the ships concerned with the vital supplies needed by seafarers on board.
The move by the ILO and IMO follows urgent communications about the situation sent by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
ILO, IMO, ICS and ITF are working together to provide these relief agencies with information that may assist them to address this situation.
In March, the ILO’s Governing Body passed a resolution calling on the Russian Federation to ‘immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression’ against Ukraine.