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SeafarerHelp supports seafarer after medical evacuation from vessel

June 27, 2019
Helicopter 1 cropped 2

ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 144 cases involving abuse, bullying, harassment or discrimination were reported to SeafarerHelp from April 2018 to March 2019, and our team is here to support any seafarer in these situations.

SeafarerHelp was contacted by the sister of a Filipino seafarer who was concerned about her brother’s wellbeing. The seafarer had been medically evacuated from his vessel after fainting while on board. The seafarer did not have his phone so his sister, who lived in Singapore, had only found out about the situation when a nurse at the hospital contacted her.

The seafarer had been on a seven-month contract and this was his third time working on a ship. He loved working at sea but he had told his sister that he was being bullied by the other crew members. His colleagues would verbally abuse him and on one occasion he was threatened to be killed if he made any further mistakes. It was affecting his sleep and the seafarer was already overworked, as the vessel no longer had a catering boy who would usually help him with his duties.

The fatigue and overwhelming mental stress from the abuse and bullying resulted in the seafarer suffering from epistaxis (a nosebleed) and fainting while on duty. He was medically evacuated and taken by helicopter to a hospital in the UK.

The seafarer’s sister asked SeafarerHelp to find out more information about her brother’s current situation, so the SeafarerHelp team contacted the hospital and liaised between the hospital staff and the seafarer’s sister to provide her with updates.

The SeafarerHelp team eventually managed to communicate with the seafarer directly via the helpline’s Filipino speaker so the seafarer could communicate in his own language. The team provided emotional support and, with the seafarer’s consent, referred his case to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) SeafSupport team in London who could advocate for the seafarer’s medical repatriation and payment of his owed wages. The SeafarerHelp team also arranged for a local Apostleship of the Sea chaplain to visit the seafarer in hospital for support.

The seafarer was eventually discharged from hospital and repatriated to the Philippines. His shipping company covered all medical and travel expenses, along with his wages for the next two months. However, the seafarer had a long way to go until he was fully recovered – he was still suffering the effects of the trauma and emotional and mental abuse, and needed further medical treatment. The SeafarerHelp team put him in touch with ISWAN’s Regional Representative in the Philippines, Jun Pablo, and the local ITF inspector for support in his home country.

SeafarerHelp continued to keep in touch with the seafarer as his health improved. When the seafarer was eventually certified fit for work, the SeafarerHelp team supported him in his search for new employment. His sister said: ‘[On] behalf of our family we would like to thank you all for your quick response and action... Your being friendly, good listeners and quick rescue gives us hope and confident to continue to fight for the rights of the victim seafarers.’

If you are a seafarer or a family member of a seafarer and need assistance, all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.

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