Philippines Bans Seafarers from Red Sea Amid Houthi Threats

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has banned Filipino seafarers from boarding foreign vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden due to safety concerns. This order comes after recent attacks on ships in the region, with measures in place to ensure seafarers' safety and the right to refuse sailing.
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The Huthi rebels in Yemen captured an Israel-linked cargo vessel in the Red Sea, warning that Israeli ships are a “legitimate target” amid the Israel-Hamas war. In response, the Philippines has barred Filipino seafarers from boarding foreign vessels sailing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, following the inclusion of the region in the list of “War-like Zones.” The Department of Migrant Workers issued an order requiring licensed manning agencies to guarantee that Filipino seafarers will not navigate the volatile sea lanes, with crewmembers also required to sign an affirmation letter acknowledging this.

The stringent measure aims to keep Filipino seafarers out of harm’s way, following previous attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden that resulted in casualties among Filipino crewmen. The DMW is working to ensure the safe release of Filipino crewmen held captive by Houthi rebels, recommending the classification of the region as a War-like Zone and issuing guidelines allowing crewmen to refuse sailing in high-risk areas. Filipino seafarers’ organizations are urging shipowners to divert vessels away from the Red Sea until safe transit can be guaranteed, emphasizing the need to prioritize the safety of seafarers amid escalating conflict in the region.

The DMW’s efforts to protect Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden include stricter protocols and guidelines for crewmembers, ensuring transparency and accountability in the deployment process. Filipino seafarers exercising their right to refuse sailing through high-risk areas will not face discrimination, with sanctions imposed on shipping companies and agencies that do not comply with safety measures. The Philippines is closely coordinating with other governments to address the risks faced by Filipino seafarers in the region, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing their safety and well-being.

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