Shipping; Illustration

Shipping industry urges UN to evacuate 300+ seafarers still trapped in Ukrainian ports

Over 30 maritime organisations and companies are urging the United Nations Secretary-General to prioritise the immediate release of the 331 seafarers and 62 ships that remain trapped in Ukrainian ports. 

Illustration; Image by offshore Energy

Since the onset of the war, the international shipping community has continually called for the immediate evacuation of the trapped seafarers. 12 months ago, 112 vessels crewed by more than 2,000 seafarers were berthed in Ukrainian ports across the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. 

Today 331 seafarers remain aboard 62 vessels in nine ports that include Odessa and Mariupol, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said.  

The industry bodies have sent an open letter to the UNSG António Guterres calling for immediate actions to return the trapped seafarers to safety.  

“Our seafarers are the heart of our industry and cannot be forgotten. For 12 months now they have been caught up in a crisis far beyond their control. Simply doing their jobs cannot come at the expense of their lives,” the letter reads.

Shipping has been integral to carrying out the Black Sea Grain Initiative, with heroic crews sailing along to borders of the conflict zone to ensure the world continues to receive vital grain deliveries. 

We recognise and celebrate the United Nations, and your leadership, for the Black Sea Grain Initiative that the UN successfully brokered with Türkiye between Ukraine and Russia. This has allowed safe passage of critical grain and fertiliser shipments from Ukraine to populations most in need, and curbed food prices from spiralling out of control. We are committed to supporting the continued success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, however, this cannot come at the expense of innocent seafarers’ lives. Action must be taken now,” the letter added.

“Without our seafarers, movement of the vital grain shipments out of Ukrainian ports would not have been possible. While there are challenges to evacuating seafarers and their ships, it must nonetheless be a top priority. Otherwise, we risk the lives of our seafarers, and this is unacceptable.”