TToday, 331 seafarers are on board 62 ships in nine ports, including Odessa and Mariupol. The 32 signatories call on UN Secretary-General António Guterres to take the necessary measures without delay to bring the trapped seafarers to safety.
12 months ago, 112 ships with more than 2,000 sailors were anchored in Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Shipping companies, charities and unions have worked in coordination with international organizations to facilitate the evacuation effort, assisting families of trapped seafarers and providing seafarers with food, clean water and medical supplies.
Shipping was integral to the implementation of the Black Sea Grains Initiative, with heroic crews sailing along the borders of the conflict zone to ensure the world continued to receive vital grain supplies. In mid-November, the United Nations and Ukraine agreed to extend the Black Sea Grains Initiative by 120 days to alleviate global food shortages by facilitating Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports.
In particular, the shipping organizations issued the following open letter:
”As the start of the war in Ukraine draws a year closer, the co-signers of this letter are writing to draw your attention to the 331 seamen who are still stranded on ships in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. We call on the United Nations and your diplomatic influence to urgently address this matter and evacuate all remaining seafarers and ships.
Our seafarers are at the heart of our industry and must not be forgotten. For 12 months now they have been trapped in a crisis beyond their control. The mere performance of their work must not come at the cost of their lives.
We recognize and celebrate the United Nations and your leadership for the Black Sea Grains Initiative, which the UN successfully mediated between Ukraine and Russia with Türkiye. This has enabled critical grain and fertilizer shipments to be safely transported from Ukraine to the most vulnerable populations and prevented food prices from spiraling out of control. We are committed to supporting the continued success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, but we must not do so at the expense of innocent seafarers. Action must be taken now. ”
The letter underscores the importance our seafarers play in moving vital grain shipments out of Ukrainian ports and concludes that despite all the challenges, the evacuation of seafarers and their ships must be the top priority.
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