The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) is appealing to the maritime industry to support seafarers and their families impacted by the crisis in Ukraine.
The fund has already raised over £220K and secured pledges of a further £37,000. However, delivery partners are calling for more support to raise an additional £250,000 to provide basic human welfare aid, such as shelter, food, water, transport, access to medical services, and practical financial help, as well as longer term aid, as Ukrainian seafarers come to terms with their losses and the impact on them and their families.
Funds from SIRF are already supporting seafarers and their families through activities delivered by maritime charities, trade unions and other not for profit organisations working in various countries. Hardship grants are available to seafarers and their families who have been impacted by the Ukraine crisis and need immediate and urgent financial support through the Ukraine Crisis Support Fund, administered by ISWAN on behalf of the SIRF.
The SIRF was established in 2021 in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. It is managed by The Seafarers’ Charity and supported by The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors’ Society, Stella Maris, and other NGOs and charities.
The Seafarers’ Charity and their delivery partners are now establishing new contacts to deliver support on the ground in Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Moldova. The fund ensures that the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and The Welfare Fund of Maritime Transport Workers Union, Ukraine, “MORTRANS” have funds to support seafarers with hardship grants.
TK Foundation, Ardmore Shipping and Chellaram Shipping HK are amongst those who have already generously donated to the new appeal.
Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive, The Seafarers’ Charity and Chair of the SIRF Stakeholder group said:
“Since the initial shock of the invasion of Ukraine we have increased clarity on need. We are working with our charity partners to develop appropriate support. We are grateful to the maritime sector’s generosity, but an additional £250,000 is the minimum needed now to fund urgent initiatives to supplement the existing support. There is no doubt that need will grow over weeks and months and we will continue to seek further donations. The SIRF provides a central repository for funds, which are then applied for by partner charities. Our expert grant makers ensure the process from due diligence to payment of the award is turned around with care but swiftly given the emergency need.”
Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping, said:
“Our number one priority is the safety of our seafarers and their families. Ships and their crews in the area are under threat, while seafarers with families in Ukraine are rightly concerned.
“Ongoing conflict, violence and uncertainty are causing people to flee their homes and become separated from their families. I urge the maritime industry to give generously to this important cause and help our seafarers at this time of crisis.”
Those in receipt of help have revealed the impact the hardship funds have had on their wellbeing:
Sergey Yanda, a Second Officer with MSC, commented: “We were forced to flee from Mariupol with our one-year-old son in our arms. Thank you very much from my whole family for your help.”
Anna Cherchel, the wife of a Third Engineer at V. Ships, said: “I would like to thank you for the financial support provided in these tough times. Thank you very much for your efficiency.”
Denis Khomenko, a Chief Engineer with Anglo-Eastern, added: “We, the seafarers’ families who are forced to stay in occupied Kherson, especially appreciate your help. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
More information on the fund and how to apply can be found at https://www.seafarerswelfare.org/relief-funds/ukraine-crisis-support-fund
Donations can be made at https://theseafarerscharity.enthuse.com/cf/seafarers-international-relief-fund-1