A number of maritime industry players have come together to coordinate the evacuation from Odessa of Ukrainian seafarers and their families. The biggest Ukrainian port/city has, so far, remained free of Russian occupation.
The group – the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) and global ship manager V.Group – have put funding and organisation in place to get Ukrainian seafarers families out of the country to accommodation in neighbouring Romania and Poland. Help is available for all Ukrainian seafarers and their families regardless of their employer or union affiliation. They can stay at the accommodation for a week free of charge, giving them time to assess their situation and for the group to provide onsite support with their journey onwards.
The ITF has provided initial funds of US$200,000 to initiate the project and is working with the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, a charity which assists maritime workers and their families, and coordinating with affiliated unions. It has enabled a restricted fund to accept donations from the maritime industry. The group is calling out to the industry to seek support and funding to sustain this initiative.
The ITF’s local affiliate, the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) is signing people up for evacuation and organising assembly points. Seafarers are encouraged to register at seafarer.help.
V.Group is coordinating accommodation in Romania and Poland and providing onsite support. This support will include help with communication and administration, medical and welfare assistance and help with planning onward journeys and securing longer term accommodation.
“Our thoughts are with everyone caught up in this conflict,” said David Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Section. “I hope that as our humanitarian efforts continue, we can persuade other companies to join in and contribute to funding.”
“Our aim with this humanitarian initiative is to get people to safety as quickly as possible,” said Oleg Grygoriuk, Chairman at MTWTU. “Applications are already being processed and our partner V.Group’s teams are in place at the destinations to support seafarers’ families as they plan their onward journeys. What we need now are contributions from the maritime industry to boost our funds and allow us to continue this initiative.”
Allan Falkenberg, Chief Operating Officer, V.Group, said: “Russian and Ukrainian crew make up 15 per cent of the global fleet supply and we remain concerned about the safety and wellbeing of all our colleagues and their families impacted by the crisis in the Ukraine. This is a fast-changing situation, and this initiative is one way we can play a role in helping families at the first stage of what will be an emotional and difficult journey.” (Dreamstime photo of Odessa)