The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) has collected $530,000 in pledges so far, and has issued grants of almost $400,000 to help those worst affected.
he first three SIRF grants will provide funds to three seafarer charities, Stella Maris, Sailors’ Society and The Mission to Seafarers.
The Stella Maris grant will fund work in the Indian port of Cochin to purchase 10 oxygenators, which will prevent an estimated 60 lives a month from being lost to COVID-19, amid a drastic shortage of oxygen tanks in hospitals.
In addition, 1,100 food parcels will be purchased and distributed. Funding will also be invested in post-COVID-19 care, counselling and therapy.
Sailors’ Society’s grant will be used to purchase and distribute 5,000 COVID Care Kits to seafarers across 10 Indian ports.
The Mission to Seafarers’ grant was awarded to support a food ingredients programme in Thoothukudi, Southern India, where many seafarers are experiencing difficulty in taking up new employment contracts, causing severe financial difficulties.
The programme will provide 1,350 seafarers with ingredients such as rice, dhal, oil, fruit and vegetables, helping to meet their basic nutritional needs for 15 days. Indian Ayurvedic remedies to boost immunity are also being provided, as is hand sanitiser and PPE equipment.
Speaking on behalf of the relief fund, Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity, commented:
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the shipping industry and beyond to get behind this united effort, and reaching a total of US$530,000 in only three weeks is a tremendous effort, and an example of how a truly united approach can make an impact
The fund has been established by leading international seafarer welfare organisations – The Seafarers’ Charity and supported by The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors’ Society, Stella Maris, ICMA and other charities – to raise $1 million in a united appeal to deliver urgent support to seafarers and their families.
Although the focus of the campaign is currently India, other countries remain highly vulnerable to the pandemic, including those with large numbers of seafarers. The goal of the SIRF is to stand ready to support seafarers and their families in other countries, should the need arise.