500 seafarers still trapped on vessels stuck in Ukrainian ports, says ICS

Just under 500 seafarers remain sheltered awaiting evacuation onboard 109 ships at Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, down from 2,000 six weeks ago.

Three quarters of the seafarers trapped in Ukrainian ports have now been evacuated from their stranded vessels, according to new data gathered by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), collated in association with the IMO.

On April 29, the IMO adopted a resolution on actions to facilitate the urgent evacuation of seafarers, while U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an escape route from the Mariupol ‘apocalypse’.

ICS is urging the preservation of humanitarian corridors, until all remaining seafarers have been safely evacuated. The remaining 500 seafarers account for skeleton crews who remained on board to allow their fellow crew mates to be evacuated.

1,500 seafarers have been safely evacuated from stranded vessels via humanitarian corridors on land and at sea. These corridors comprised of evacuation flights and buses from ports, organized by the maritime labor supply states of those affected. Some of the 1,500 are awaiting their further transfer from shore locations in Ukraine, and many have been fully repatriated home.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), the IMO, UNHCR and humanitarian organizations have coordinated deliveries of food, water, and medicines to remaining crew. While some supplies have reached the intended recipients, delivering aid continues to be extremely difficult, particularly in high-risk areas.

Vessels are stuck in: Mykolaiv (25), Chornomorsk (23), Kherson (16), Odessa (10), Berdyansk (8), Pivdennyi (6), Mariupol (5), Nika Tera (2), Ochakiv (2), Izmail (1), and Yuzhny anchorage (1).

The affected seafarers, both the evacuated and those who remain onboard, are from 27 different countries, with the largest number from the Philippines and India. Other affected seafarer nationalities include Ukrainian, Russian, Chinese, Danish, Greek, and Turkish.

ICS data indicates that most of the 109 stranded vessels are either bulk carriers (42) or general cargo vessels (38). Other vessels include oil tankers, chemical tankers, tugs, ro-ro cargo, an ice-breaker, and motor hoppers.

Natalie Shaw, director of employment affairs at ICS, said: “The escape route out of ‘the apocalypse’ must be open to these seafarers as well. While we are relieved that around 1,500 have been successfully evacuated, our focus is on those still onboard.

“We will continue to do all we can to facilitate their safe passage out of the affected areas and, in the meantime, work with aid agencies to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to those still affected.

“Open dialogue made these rescue missions possible; we’re calling for continued communication and co-operation.

“We commend the rescue effort taken by flag states, port states, and labour supply states, as well as governments, shipowners, unions, international aid agencies, and seafarer charities.”

Photo credit: iStock/ Volodimyr Trofimov. Port of Odessa. October 10, 2021

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