A major survey into the welfare priorities of seafarers affected by the Ukraine crisis has shone a spotlight on the measures being taken to support seafarers and their families, as well as the most pressing priorities in the coming months.
The survey was undertaken by the Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) and the Ukraine Charity Co-ordination Group, with the goal of reviewing the effectiveness of the response so far, identifying priorities and planning for the future.
The survey results highlight the full extent of global efforts to help seafarers and their families affected by the war. 100 organisations from across the maritime and welfare sectors participated in the survey to detail the steps they are taking, including charities, trade associations, welfare providers, unions, and shipping companies.
More than 50% of NGOs responding to the survey reported assisting with small gifts, SIM cards/WiFi, supportive conversations, medical help, religious services, and transportation. 29% of NGO respondents have helped seafarers and their families impacted by the war who wanted to relocate (an area of support also met by 47% of industry and union respondents). Finally, 25% of NGO respondents also referenced legal help in respect of immigration, financial assistance, and accommodation for seafarers and/or their families.
The following challenges were identified as the most significant in the coming months:
- Limits on travel to/from Ukraine for seafarers (74% of respondents)
- Mental health and wellbeing (70%)
- Extended contracts, discouragement fatigue (49%)
- Employment / new contracts (38%)
- Money remittances or other banking problems (34%)
- Cost of living for refugee families (32%)
- Data or wi-fi to contact family (26%)
An overwhelming number of respondents highlighted the limits on travel to/from Ukraine and issues affecting employment contracts (new and extended) as the most significant challenges that seafarers would face in the coming months.
Respondents were also asked to identify the projects that they would prioritise if resources were available. Among the common responses were: individual financial assistance/hardship grants; funding of accommodation for seafarers or their families who are refugees outside of Ukraine, mental health support, funding of SIM cards/WiFi for seafarers impacted by the war; legal support; and support for efforts to lobby the Ukrainian government to allow seafarers to leave the country for new contracts as a reserved occupation of strategic national importance.