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Extraordinary session over Ukraine crisis

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) held a virtual extraordinary session of its Council on 10 and 11 March 2022 to discuss the impact of the Russia-Ukraine situation on seafarers

The United Nations specialized agency, the IMO, convened its Council to discuss on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. During the session, there was consensus amongst Council members that the crisis should be quickly resolved as it would affect supply chains and the livelihoods of seafarers.

The safety and welfare of seafarers was highlighted as top priority, and the IMO has urged Member States and other organizations to provide as much assistance as possible to seafarers affected by the conflict. The Council also stressed on the need to ensure the safety of the international maritime community required to sustain supply chains and to provide the necessary food and medicine to the people of Ukraine.

Proposed safe corridor in Black Sea and Sea of Azov
In the same session, the Council suggested for the establishment of a blue safe maritime corridor in the affected areas of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov so that stranded seafarers could be evacuated. Simply, the corridor should prevent seafarers and vessels from being a casualty of crossfire between the two sides, and it would require collaboration from all parties to ensure the corridor performs its role as intended.

In addition, the Council has also proposed steps to alleviate the impact of the conflict on seafarers and their families. These steps would require effort from all parties, such as employers, governments and seafarers themselves.

Aimed at protecting all seafarers, the steps recommended by the IMO Council are:

  • Ships should be allowed to leave Ukrainian ports with their safety ensured immediately;
  • If the ship’s safety cannot be ensured, seafarers should be allowed to leave the conflict zone and return home as soon as possible;
  • Seafarers should be allowed free access to communicate with their families;
  • Seafarers should be supported and given their due wages;
  • Seafarers should be acknowledged as key workers;
  • Affected seafarers should be exempted from mandatory military service based on their status as key workers; and
  • For affected seafarers, port control officers should exercise discretion and consider the special nature of the current crisis when presented with expired documentation.



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