Ukraine is the world’s sixth largest seafaring nation, accounting for 4 per cent of the global seafarer workforce.
Despite the UN Black Sea grain initiative to create a safe corridor for ships carrying Ukrainian food and fertilizer, many vessels still cannot leave Odesa. The Black Sea, along with the Sea of Azov, has been mined, and there is also the risk that they might be attacked by Russian forces.
Ukrainian seafarers can’t leave Ukraine to join ships elsewhere because of martial law imposed on men between 18 and 60. Following on from earlier COVID restrictions, some seafarers haven’t been able to work for a year, which means they can’t earn money and support their families.
Seafarers and their families are terrified and full of uncertainty about the future.
Stella Maris chaplains are working tirelessly to support the immediate needs of these seafarers and their families, providing support such as SIM cards, food, transport, and temporary accommodation. In addition, they are providing them with access to professional psychologists to provide essential mental health support.
It’s impossible to say what it’s like for these seafarers. I spoke to a ship master who could hear rocket attacks overhead. It’s not easy for seafarers to leave the ships, so we use mobile phones. We ask: are you alive, are you ok? It’s important to maintain communication in such hard times.
– Rostik – Stella Maris ship visitor in Odesa, Ukraine
How is Stella Maris Responding?
The Stella Maris Seafarers Support Service provides medium to long-term support from professional psychologists in Ukraine. The platform delivers a programme of remote, ongoing psychological support for those most in need.
Urgent food supplies
Stella Maris Chaplains in Odesa are working with humanitarian partners to ensure vital food supplies can be delivered to seafarers trapped on ships in the Black Sea. They also run a soup kitchen to help families of seafarers in Odesa.
We’re using a Stella Maris centre to provide emergency accommodation for 40 seafarers and their families seeking refuge in Poland at a time, before they move onto somewhere permanent. Everyone is also provided with an arrival pack of clothes, toiletries and essentials.
Contacting loved ones
Recognising the desperate need to contact their families back home, Stella Maris continues to provide free phone SIM cards to Ukrainian seafarers.
This vital work is only possible because of our generous supporters. If you would like to support seafarers and their families affected by this crisis, please make a donation today.