Maritime industry helps 100 Ukrainian seafarers, families escape war

More than 100 people seeking refuge from the conflict in Ukraine have been supported to reach safety as part of a joint humanitarian initiative set up by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) and global ship manager V.Group.

The initiative is focused on helping seafarers and their families, many of whom live around port regions like Odesa and Mariupol. 

Oleg Grygoriuk, Chairman of MTWTU, said: “Many seafarers families are at the epicenter of the military actions taking place in key maritime cities in Ukraine. We do our best to ensure safety for seafarers’ families. Prior to the start of this project, we helped more than 60 people to cross the border using MTWTU resources.

“We gained valuable experience and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue this project, which definitely is the number one priority for seafarers’ families now.” 

Katie Higginbottom, Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, said: “In less than three weeks we have helped more than 100 people reach safe and secure accommodation and provided support as they plan their onward journeys. Today we heard that three families managed to make the move from Kherson to Odesa and will be on their way to safety on the next bus out this week.

“We can barely imagine the levels of courage and endurance required to take these perilous journeys. We continue to call for industry partners to join our initiative so that we can keep the project running for as long as it is needed and help as many families as possible.” 

Allan Falkenberg, Chief Operating Officer of V.Group, said: “We remain concerned about the safety and wellbeing of all seafarers and their families, and this project is one way we can provide practical support.  The initiative has been established to help all Ukrainian seafarer families, regardless of their affiliation or employer.

“We’ve had a high number of people register interest in accessing support and we expect the level of demand to continue.  The initiative is clearly making a significant difference to families with over one hundred people so far having reached safe accommodation.

“This is a fast-moving situation and it is imperative that we continue to work together with our colleagues in the ITF and MTWTU to help as many people as possible. We now encourage more organizations in the industry to partner with us.” 

Larysa, a seafarer’s daughter: “Last Sunday my parents drove off with you. Today they have already boarded the train to move further. I am grateful to you – my heart was in peace as you took care of them.”

Oleg, a seafarer: “Thank you for helping the seafarers’ families to leave the country at this difficult time for Ukraine. Our whole family is grateful to you for the opportunity to save our lives and health.”

Taras, a seafarer: “Thank you! It was really difficult to get to Odesa from Kherson: my wife and son were waiting for the end of the attacks as they were at the epicenter. But thank God they are alive and okay, and now they are in a safe place thanks to you. A low bow to you and sincere gratitude!”

Iryna, a seafarer’s wife: “Thank you for organizing the ride, for giving us such an opportunity. These days it is a salvation for lots of us.”

Yulia, a seafarer’s sister: “We sincerely thank the MTWTU for their support and the opportunity of evacuation – soon we will be safe. Sadly, we are leaving our home. Now, your care is invaluable to us.”

All photos credit: ITF.

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