ITF wants immediate action taken to safeguard seafarers in Red Sea region

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The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and seafarers’ unions, representing 19.5 million transport workers and seafarer unions from some 150 countries, says it wants immediate action taken to prevent further casualties among seafarers having to transit the lower Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The ITF says such action has been lacking and could have prevented the unnecessary deaths of seafarers.

The ITF globally stands united in grief and outrage, the Federation said.

During the six months of 2024 so far the Houthi rebels have launched over 60 attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, sinking two, seizing another, and attacking dozens more.

On 12 June, Houthis attacked the the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Tutor, with an unmanned surface vehicle and an anti-ship missile in the southern Red Sea. This unprovoked attack tragically killed one crew member. The remaining crew had to abandon the ship, which sank several days later.

In March, the maritime community mourned the loss of three seafarers aboard the MV True Confidence, also attacked by Houthis.

“We also continue to advocate for the safe return of crew members from the Galaxy Leader, attacked by Houthis in November 2023, and from the MSC Aries, seized by Iran in April 2024, who remain unjustly held captive,” said the ITF.

The Federation also condemned the recent Houthi attacks on the cargo ship Verbena, which resulted in a seafarer being severely injured by anti-ship cruise missiles, and on the Transworld Navigator.

“While we appreciate expressions of solidarity and condemnation, words are not enough. The ITF demands urgent, concrete action to guarantee the safety and security of seafarers.

“Governments must step up and coordinate their efforts to protect seafarers sailing in or through the area. Shipping companies must demonstrate their commitment to their seafarers by diverting their ships. Flag states, which are responsible for assuring a safe working environment for seafarers on their vessels, must instruct companies to divert their ships.

“Flag of Convenience states must not rely solely on United States, United Kingdom, or European navies for protection.”

The ITF pointed out that this week (Monday 25 June) marked the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ‘Day of the Seafarer’, with this year’s theme being “Navigating the Future – Safety First”.

“Yet, it is clear that right now many seafarers are undertaking their critical jobs in the face of grave danger.

“Seafarers are not commodities but the backbone of the global supply chain. Their lives should not be risked for profit, nor should they have to perform their duties under the constant threat of violence or harm.

“We urge the international community to reflect on the invaluable contributions of seafarers to the global economy and to take action now to ensure justice, safety and security for those risking their lives at sea.”

Written by Africa Ports & Ships and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.