Family of Abandoned Seafarer Talk of Consequences
Human Rights at Sea has published the first of a series of case studies on the families of Indian seafarers still abandoned, some reportedly for over 33 months, offshore the UAE.
With a headline of Abandonment. A Pattern of Human Rights Abuse, the latest publication aims to reinforce public awareness of the consequences to those who suffer, including the family members left behind.
The charity’s investigative team met with Mr. Prabakaran in Mumbai, the brother in law of Captain Ayyappan Swaminathan, Master of the MV Azraqmoiah for the last 25 months, who gave personal statements on behalf of the family to Human Rights at Sea.
Prabakaran said: “It is a nightmare and mental harassment for him and his crew.” Family support is ongoing, but there are limits for everyone, he says. “We are however continuing to support as it is our moral responsibility to the family. Even his mother of 65 years has helped out with her savings.”
The testimony, which has been corroborated and authorized by Swaminathan, highlights the battle to stay mentally strong for his crew and family, while leading his team and co-ordinating other crews in the surrounding abandoned vessels.
His wife has simply stated: “I just want him home. I want his safety, and I want him back”.
The emotional and financial strain on the family and extended family underscores the dire consequences for seafarers when they are left to fend for themselves while left out at sea. There is a lack of scrutiny of vessel conditions and a lack of readily available welfare and legal support through normal face-to-face contact.
At the time of writing, the vessels first highlighted by Human Rights at Sea in December 2018 remain abandoned offshore the UAE with no vessel arrest yet, nor apparent expedited route to crew wage recovery. In the meantime, the U.K.-based welfare organization ISWAN has arranged for emergency payments to be made to all the crew’s families through local union support. These are expected shortly.
Founder of Human Rights at Sea, David Hammond, said: “To address the issue of the direct availability of outstanding wage payments for abandoned crew, it is time that the shipping industry and flag state registries seriously consider a single centralized global fund for seafarer’s welfare payments to alleviate financial suffering and the consequences we are seeing and have witnessed first hand with families here in India.”
The full testimony is available here.