When a seafarer or their family are involved in a sudden and unforeseen situation like the current COVID-19 pandemic, they may require financial support. In cases where no other help is available, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) can provide immediate, essential aid.
In early April, an Indian seafarer called Pranav* contacted ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp to ask for help while he was stranded in Tunisia. He had arrived in the country at the beginning of March and had been due to join a ship in mid-March, but restrictions at the port did not allow for crew change so Pranav had to return to his hotel. His shipping company told him there would be no crew change until the end of April so advised him to return to India at his own expense, which included his air fare and hotel expenses.
However, Pranav had no salary and was unable to bear these costs, and he had an agreement with his shipping company that they were only liable to bear any expenses after he joined the ship. The lockdown was not due to be lifted until at least 14th April and Pranav had received no assurances from the Indian Embassy in Tunisia due to the uncertain situation.
The SeafarerHelp team put Pranav in touch with ISWAN’s regional team in India who applied on his behalf to the Seafarers Emergency Fund for a grant. This would cover the cost of Pranav’s hotel bills and meals so far and those for the next 20 days.
A grant of USD 1,163 was approved and Pranav’s burden was lifted. He contacted ISWAN’s Director of Regions, Chirag Bahri, to express his gratitude: ‘I am deeply thankful to you and ISWAN South Asia team especially Mr. Ashesh Kumar who help me financially by awarding to repay my hotel bills dues in this stranded situation cause due to corona pandemic. ISWAN is doing well to help the needy in bad times. I appreciate great support from your Organization who takes care of seafarer welfare. I will by heart never forget ISWAN.’
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 Seafarers UK, 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 seafarerhelp.org.
*This seafarer’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.