Shipping companies plead UN for release of seafarers trapped in Ukraine

The Ukrainian flag flies from the stern of a ship in the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on September 16, 2016.

More than 30 maritime companies and organisations have sent an open letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres pleading for the prompt release of the trapped seafarers in Ukraine.

There are currently 331 seafarers and 62 ships that remain trapped in Ukrainian ports due to its conflict with Russia. The purpose of the letter was for the UN to prioritise their release.

The shipping bodies and firms said in the 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.

“For 12 months now they [seafarers] have been caught up in a crisis far beyond their control. Simply doing their jobs cannot come at the expense of their lives.”

The shipping companies acknowledged the UN for the successful negotiation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative between Ukraine and Russia with Turkey. “This has allowed safe passage of critical grain and fertiliser shipments from Ukraine to populations most in need, and curbed food prices from spiralling out of control,” they mentioned in the letter.

READ: Russian vessels go dark, pivot eastward following Ukraine invasion

“While there are challenges to evacuating seafarers and their ships, it must nonetheless be a top priority. Otherwise, we risk the lives of our seafarers, and this is unacceptable,” the letter concluded.

Letter signatories include:

  • Bahamas Shipowners Association
  • CONFIRTAMA – Italian Shipowners’ Association
  • Cyprus Shipping Chamber
  • Daiichi Chuo Kisen Kaisha
  • Danish Shipping
  • European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA)
  • InterManager
  • International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)
  • International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA)
  • International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA)
  • International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd. (IMEC)
  • International Maritime Health Association (IMHA)
  • International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI)
  • Japanese Shipowners’ Association
  • Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (“K” LINE)
  • Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.
  • Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line)
  • Sailors’ Society
  • Seafarers Hospital Society
  • Stella Maris
  • Synergy Denmark A/S
  • The Mission to Seafarers
  • The Seafarers’ Charity
  • UK Chamber of Shipping
  • Union of Greek Shipowners
  • Verband Deutscher Reeder (VDR)

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