In fact, global union federation of transport workers’ trade unions reported two such cases onboard vessels.
“The situation is getting worse here on board. The ship is out of diesel for lighting. I’m really afraid something bad will happen, I swear the crew could harm themselves."
This was one of many messages that Mohamed Arrachedi, ITF Arab World and Iran Network Coordinator, has received during the crew change crisis this year.
Namely, the message came from one of the six Egyptian crew stranded on the Tanzanian-flagged MV Nader in the Port of Suakin, Sudan.
The vessel's seafarers had been abandoned onboard the ro-ro cargo vessel in the Red Sea, since November 2019.
Additionally, for the general cargo vessel MV Reggae, priority was given to the sale of the vessel, before the crew’s needs. The vessel was abandoned in Tunisia in 2019, then again in Turkey.
"We are abandoned seafarers. We have not been paid our wages,” the crew texted Arrachedi. “We haven’t had meal from yesterday evening. The situation here on board is getting bad and we don’t have diesel even for lighting. We wait your call.”
Arrachedi estimates that around seven out of every 10 calls he receives are calls for help from crew abandoned on ships without pay or provisions.
I am dealing with 15 vessels now – vessels abandoned in Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon and Libya. All are in different situations, all suffering very hard living conditions, very hard family situations, stranded in limbo waiting to go home.
...as Arrachedi added.
According to the ILO Abandonment of Seafarers database, the Middle East accounts for around 80 of the around 200 active cases worldwide.
Of all cases of abandonment recorded on the ILO site, 340 were reported by the ITF. Of the 197 resolved cases worldwide, 157 involved the ITF.
Abandonment is the cancer of the shipping industry. We observe with concern a worrying increase of cases in the Arab region. Some unscrupulous ship owners think they have impunity in the region.