Emergency help for seafarers in need

April 28, 2021
Lifebuoy 1

When a seafarer or their family are involved in a sudden and unforeseen situation, they may require financial support. In cases where no other help is available, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) can provide immediate, essential aid. Mukesh* was facing a financial crisis during a national COVID-19 lockdown when he contacted ISWAN’s team in India for assistance.

Mukesh had been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis during a previous contract, and although he tried taking on shorter contracts at sea in less physical roles, he was still in a great deal of pain. When the suffering became intolerable, Mukesh had to take a loan from relatives and friends to pay for surgery recommended by his doctor.

Post-surgery, Mukesh was not in a position to work for the next six weeks, and his country had just entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mukesh contacted ISWAN South Asia in a desperate situation, worried about paying back his loan and taking care of his family.

Recognising the severity of Mukesh’s situation, the ISWAN South Asia team applied for a grant from the Seafarers Emergency Fund on his behalf and supported him throughout the process. The grant application was approved and Mukesh received a sum to cover the cost of his surgery so he could pay his friends and relatives back.

Mukesh later wrote to ISWAN: ‘…with overwhelming gratitude and appreciation … I cannot thank you enough for the timely help … Your organization is giving hope to seafarers from around the world and I thank ISWAN Global and ISWAN South East Asia team for lending me a hand on this very tough time.’

For more information about the Seafarers Emergency Fund and how to apply, please click here. A welfare organisation or trade union must apply on the seafarer/seafarers’ family’s behalf. The Fund is jointly provided by The TK Foundation, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The Seafarers’ Charity, and is administered by ISWAN.

If you are a seafarer and need help in a crisis, you can contact our free, confidential, 24-hour helpline, SeafarerHelp, for guidance and support. All contact details can be found at

*This seafarer’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.

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