Russian and Ukrainian seafarers trapped in Odesa’s freezing conditions with uncertain supplies are frightened but have displayed immense courage, says charity Human Rights at Sea
CONDITIONS are being described as dire for around 1,500 seafarers believed to be trapped in Odesa and other Ukrainian ports.
Crews of mixed nationalities remain stranded on board ships, though governments have helped some of their own nationals to leave.
Human Rights at Sea chief executive David Hammond, who returned from Odessa at the weekend, said crews living in fear had shown an “immense amount of courage”.
“There are issues with owners running cold ships and crew still being on board with burst pipes and flooding of accommodation. There’s real concern about the crews getting out. There are concerns about owners putting the cargo before the crew.”
Charities were also concerned for the wellbeing of Russians caught in the conflict amid xenophobia towards them.
Private maritime security companies had attempted small rescues at huge risk, Mr Hammond added.
“The ship managers, the lawyers, and even the union officials we spoke to cannot get access to the ports,” the former British Royal Marine said, adding these were “utterly locked down and full of weaponry”.
“Reports suggest that there are around one hundred vessels trapped in Odessa,’’ according to Human Rights at Sea. “Ships have been sunk, civilian seafarers have been killed, and hundreds have become stranded in Odesa and other ports of southern Ukraine, trapped by the full force of the naval blockade that Russia has imposed on the region.
“The ships and seafarers affected are, in most cases, neither Ukrainian nor Russian — although innocent seafarers from both countries have been badly affected by the conflict. The majority of ships are registered with states that are legally neutral in relation to this war.’’
Assistance to seafarers’ families
The Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine, with the support of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and the largest shipping companies, is ready to gather seafarers’ families for their evacuation from Ukraine.
Evacuation voyage on a comfortable bus provides:
– transfer from Odessa to Romania / Poland (country and city to be specified);
– meeting at the point of destination and assistance in accommodation;
– accommodation and meals at the hotel for one week.
During this time, seafarers’ families must find further permanent accommodation and apply for required benefits in place (assistance will be provided); or plan other future options.
The date of departure is to be specified.
These services are free of charge for family members of Ukrainian seafarers.
This service is not provided:
– if you are already outside Ukraine;
– if you are going to travel by your own car;
– in any case that differs from the above-specified conditions.
If you are not in Odessa, but in the temporarily occupied cities, you should also fill out the form and wait for a call from a Union employee.