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Helping developing world seafarers on the COVID-19 frontline

LONDON – “The outbreak of COVID-19 on a global scale has brought fear and uncertainty to key workers around the world. Those in the maritime sector have particular anxieties as they are displaced from home, friends, family and the other support mechanisms available to most. It has never been more important for these seafarers to have access to help in some form,” states Captain John Lloyd, Chief Executive of The Nautical Institute.

For those seafarers, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF), established a number of years ago by UK-registered charity the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), can provide vital financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the SEF, seafarers and their families who are directly involved in sudden or unforeseen crises can access immediate, essential aid to cover expenses such as psychological counselling, medical bills, repatriation and other unexpected costs.

Already, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEF has paid out four grants totalling US$35,048 (around £28,000) which has assisted 608 Indian and Filipino seafarers.

Roger Harris, ISWAN Executive Director, says “Many seafarers and their families are facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ISWAN is providing support around the world, like delivering food packages to 550 stranded seafarers in Manila with funding from the Seafarers Emergency Fund.” To support this vital financial lifeline, a group of maritime organisations has established a crowdfunding campaign to help these developing world seafarers and families most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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David Bolduc, Executive Director of Quebec City-based Green Marine states, “This is a much-needed initiative in this time of crisis. As a global industry, we have a duty to show solidarity with seafarers, the men and women who are operating ships worldwide and who really are the backbone of global trade. Please consider supporting this campaign.” (Photo shows seafarers receiving food packages in Manila.)