The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has issued a press statement, informing that the whole shipping industry calls for the release of the more than 300 seafarers still strapped in the Ukranian ports since the onset of the war.
Today, 331 seafarers remain aboard 62 vessels in nine ports that include Odessa and Mariupol. The 32 signatories are calling on UNSG António Guterres to immediately take the necessary actions to return the trapped seafarers to safety.
Shipping companies, charities, and unions have worked in coordination with international organisations to facilitate the evacuation effort, supported the trapped seafarers’ families, and provided the seafarers with provisions including food, clean water, and medical supplies.
Shipping has been integral to carrying out the Black Sea Grain Initiative, with heroic crews sailing along to borders of the conflict zone to ensure the world continues to receive vital grain deliveries. In mid November, UN and Ukraine had agreed to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative by 120 days, aiming to ease global food shortages by facilitating Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports.
In particular, shipping organizations issued the following join open letter:
”As we approach one year since the start of the war in Ukraine, the co-signatories of this letter write to you to highlight the 331 seafarers still trapped on vessels in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. We call on the United Nations, and on your diplomatic influence, to address this matter urgently and evacuate all remaining seafarers and ships.
Our seafarers are the heart of our industry and cannot be forgotten. For 12 months now they have been caught up in a crisis far beyond their control. Simply doing their jobs cannot come at the expense of their lives.
We recognise and celebrate the United Nations, and your leadership, for the Black Sea Grain Initiative that the UN successfully brokered with Türkiye between Ukraine and Russia. This has allowed the safe passage of critical grain and fertiliser shipments from Ukraine to populations most in need, and curbed food prices from spiralling out of control. We are committed to supporting the continued success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, however this cannot come at the expense of innocent seafarers’ lives. Action must be taken now. ”
The letter highlights the importance that our seafarers play for the movement of the vital grain shipments out of Ukrainian ports, concluding that albeit all challenges, the evacuation of seafarers and their ships must be a top priority.