This survey, aimed at women seafarers only, follows on from the Rapid Health Needs Questionnaire (pilot study) which was distributed in July 2014. The survey is fully confidential and has been devised by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Seamen's Hospital Society (SHS), International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

The purpose of this survey is to help inform the way our organisations make or campaign for improvements to the health information/services available to women seafarers. It is designed to reach a much larger number of participants than the pilot study and to build on the findings we have so far. If you have already taken part in the first questionnaire, you are still encouraged to complete this one.

All responses are anonymous and cannot be traced back to you.

Please note this survey is aimed at women seafarers only.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

 

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Responding to recent articles and reports on current levels of maritime piracy, intentionally MPHRP highlighted the worrying trend that they appear to avoid the word "piracy" in favour of "new forms of criminality", specifically "attacks" and "hijacking". The technical differences denoted by these terms aside, a basic truth is veiled: that violent crime is committed against seafarers.

Of Somali-based piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean - the one region where the term "piracy" is accurately applied - Hon. Abdalla Jama Saleh, the Minister for Maritime Transport, Ports and Counter Piracy for Puntland, states that the pirates are "not defeated but dormant." Jama Saleh is charged with leading Somalia's counter piracy efforts by working with the international community to fight piracy inland and along the coast of Puntland. He spoke to Defence IQ about the decline of piracy off the Somali coast and how that has now given rise to new maritime challenges in the Gulf of Aden. In tandem with his remarks, it must be noted that the international community's naval operations in the Indian Ocean, "Atalanta" and "Ocean Shield" have been extended until the end of 2016 amid warnings that, while Somali-based piracy in the Indian Ocean is held in check by multinational naval operations, pirates retain their capability to resume attacks, hijackings and hostage taking. The United Nations' Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has also been given an extended mandate by its members. Meanwhile, 30 seafarers are still being held captive by pirates on Somali soil.

In its recently released 2014 piracy report, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) announced that "ship hijackings" in South East Asia spiked in 2014. While there have been fewer overall reports of piracy attacks (245, according to the IMB), the number of hijackings in 2014 totalled 21 compared to 12 in 2013. "The global increase in hijackings is due to a rise in attacks against coastal tankers in South East Asia," said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB and Member of the MPHRP Board. "Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell." The IMB highlighted the death of a crew member shot in an attack on a bitumen tanker in December as a possibility the incidents were becoming more violent.

The UK Chamber of Shipping has warned that progress made in the Indian Ocean should not mask significant security threats to shipping and seafarers in other regions, both off West Africa and in South East Asia – where a violent "petro-piracy" is thriving. UK Chamber CEO, Guy Platten, said that in these regions violent acts of maritime crime take place within the waters of functioning states. "This new form of maritime criminality, which often has links to shore-based oil theft, is taking place within the jurisdictions of functioning nation-states, but ones that pay little attention to maritime security and governance," Platten said. "Put simply, these regions have become a breeding ground for future pirates."

The MTISC (Gulf of Guinea) guidance adds that seafarers themselves are key to combating piracy in the region: "Experience has shown in other parts of the world that maritime security cannot be improved by the actions of law enforcement agencies and militaries alone; it requires the full support of seafarers operating in the region. This is more important in the seas off West Africa where navies, coastguards and law enforcement agencies have limited resources." It follows that seafarers need to be made aware and be adequately equipped to counter piracy.

Similarly, the Asian Ship Owners Forum has "expressed its grave concern over the growing threat of piracy in the waters of West Africa", adding that "experience has ... shown us that prompt and decisive action must be taken to nip the threat of piracy and armed robbery in the bud, before a handful of incidents can grow into a regional or even global problem that threatens the lives and well-being of thousands of seafarers".

Roy Paul, Programme Director of MPHRP, said, "At the end of last year our team in South East Asia were involved in responding to the death of Mr. Tran Duc Dat, 3rd Engineer of the Vietnam flagged M/T VP Asphalt 2. The seafarers were tied up and the pirates searched a number of crew cabins and stole personal effects. The pirates then left the vessel and made their escape. The third engineer was found in his cabin having been shot in the forehead. Welfare responders from MPHRP assisted the family through the repatriation and burial of their loved one. He leaves a wife and two young daughters and MPHRP also assisted other crew members after these violent events". MPHRP is assisting nearly 500 seafarers and their families who have been affected by piracy and armed robbery.

The industry is already investing heavily in shore side solutions to piracy. In Somalia several projects focus on creating jobs for Somali's and intend to create and restore law and order infrastructure to prosecute criminality. It is sad then, to report that in comparison little is being done to address the hardship of seafarers and families who have lost their lives, their health, their freedom and livelihood to piracy while they were simply doing the job that they were legally employed to do.

It is our seafarers who bear the brunt of these criminal acts, irrespective of what these crimes are called or how statistics are counted. Ultimately, violent crime at sea will affect the recruitment and retention of career seafarers.

The MPHRP warns against complacency. The MPHRP encourages continued efforts to ensure the safety of seafarers. The MPHRP calls for seafarers to be made aware, to remain vigilant and to apply themselves to protective measures against piracy. The MPHRP highlights the hardship inflicted upon seafarers and families. The MPHRP pleads for simple acts of humanitarian support for already affected seafarers and families and it can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.mphrp.org

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Imagine you are a seafarer who has been injured and left in hospital while your ship has sailed

Imagine you are a seafarer who has received bad news while at sea

Imagine you are a mother of seafarer who has been lost at sea

Who do you turn to?

ISWAN's SeafarerHelp is there for seafarers and their families 24 hours a day, 365 day per year. Our dedicated staff will be working over Christmas and New Year in case a seafarer calls with a problem or if they simply want to speak to someone in their own language. We refer cases to the most appropriate organisation, if possible, in the port where the seafarer is visiting or about to visit.

This year we have seen an increase of nearly 50% in the number of seafarers that contact us.

Although we receive funds from generous grant giving organisations, we still need to raise more money to keep our SeafarerHelp service running 24 hours every day of the year.

Can you give a donation of £15 or US$15 or more today? Better still, can you donate £5 or US$5 per month? We can accept donations by credit or paypal in different currencies. Simply click on the following link.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

We are there for seafarers. Will you be there for us?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Thank you.

In response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, necessitating commercial ships to rescue tens of thousands of migrants and refugees during 2014, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and ISWAN member, has published new Guidance on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea, which can be downloaded free of charge via the ICS website.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe explained: "The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian obligation to assist anyone at sea whose vessel is in distress. But the scale of the crisis involving thousands of people attempting to get to Europe in craft that are neither fit for purpose nor seaworthy has raised real concerns about the safety and health of ships' crews that may be involved in rescuing as many as 200 people at a time."

The challenges involved in rescuing large numbers of people and then accommodating them on board ship prior to disembarkation are enormous compared to conventional rescue operations. The ICS Guidelines are therefore intended to help shipping companies prepare for this eventuality, whilst taking full of account of the safety and security of the ship should such large scale rescues be necessary. ICS says that experience has shown that advance preparations, and the development of effective procedures supported by regular drills, will prepare Masters and their crews to manage large scale rescue operations safely and successfully.

The issues covered by the ICS Guidelines include the provision of additional Personal Protective Equipment for ship's crew and the safe management and accommodation of large numbers of people on board with an emphasis on sanitation, hygiene and ship security. The Guidelines also refer to the need for companies to take full account of crew welfare in the aftermath of a large scale rescue. The ICS Guidelines also contain useful references to relevant advice produced by the World Health Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also emphasises that Masters should not be expected to become involved in decisions about the legal status of the people they have rescued or whether they intend to apply for asylum.

"Notwithstanding the shipping industry's legal and humanitarian obligations to rescue people in distress at sea, it remains incumbent on the governments to find a solution to the current crisis which is placing a very difficult burden on ships' crews and the companies that have a duty of care for them." said Mr Hinchliffe, who will be participating at a high-level meeting on the migrants at sea crisis being hosted by the UNHCR in Geneva, in which the IMO Secretary-General will also be taking part.

 

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Seafarers facing legal problems can now obtain immediate information concerning their rights, wherever they are in the world, with a new app  launched by Seafarers' Rights International (SRI) after three months of user testing.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI said: "Seafarers need tangible support 24/7. There are many good companies and maritime administrations who provide seafarers with assistance and support with regard to their human rights. However where that is not the case, this app will provide a lifeline for seafarers. The app has been designed to operate offline so that seafarers can access information at all times. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices.

The app has a unique 'Find a Lawyer' tool which gives immediate access to a database of lawyers around the world who have signed up to the SRI Charter - a statement of good practice in the provision of legal services to seafarers - and who may be able to offer assistance to seafarers facing criminal prosecution."

Brian Orrell OBE, Chairman of the Advisory Board of SRI said:
"It is important that the work of SRI gets directly to seafarers. This is why this practical advice is now being made available on an app, and we are also producing on-line education materials free of charge for seafarers to raise their awareness around subjects relevant to their working lives. This education will ensure that seafarers' rights are real and meaningful for them."

The app can be dowloaded from here

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Typhoon Haiyan 1

Typhoon Haiyan - known locally as Yolanda - hit eastern Samar Island at 4.40am local time on 8th November last year.

It caused a storm surge – a wall of water – that was 25 feet high in some areas, including in the town of Tacloban.

Reports regarding Haiyan's windspeeds vary but the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration – the relevant government authority - has said that when it made landfall Haiyan had sustained winds of 147mph and gusts of 171mph.

If the figures are correct then Haiyan WAS NOT the strongest tropical storm to ever make landfall but it WAS the deadliest Typhoon in the history of the Philippines, a country hit on average by more than 20 tropical storms a year and prone to both earthquakes and volcanoes.

Over 14 million people were affected across 46 provinces.

The city of Tacloban, home to more than 220,000 people, suffered more loss of life than any other area of the Philippines.

Five million people saw their homes severely damaged or destroyed (550,000 houses destroyed and an additional 580,000 houses were severely damaged).

The Government of the Philippines said the storm resulted in over 6,201 deaths with over 1,785 people reported missing.

Behind the figures there are tens of thousands of individual human stories of people losing children, parents, and loved ones in the most appalling of circumstances.

When news started to come through about the devastation caused, the maritime industry was quick to respond.

Companies, both shipping and ship management, began to mobilise their resources. One initial response was to find out more information from the affected areas and to set up helplines for seafarers who were away at sea. Companies began compiling lists of seafarers who lived in the areas hit by the typhoon. Some crewing agencies began to send their staff from Manila to find out if their seafarers were safe, injured or missing.

Outside of the country there was a real need for seafarers to call back home to find out if their family and loved ones were safe. ISWAN helped to organise an appeal with the help of Intermanager, ICS and others. Very soon we had enough funds to distribute to seafarer centres all over the world for free calls for Filipino seafarers.

Shipping companies and others also began to provide free phone calls and internet services for seafarers.

Seafarer Thx Letter Edited 2

After a few days it soon became clear that the typhoon had caused widespread devastation resulting in many casualties and the destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Maritime Companies, unions, and welfare organisations started to organise relief efforts when the full extent of the effects of the Typhoon were known.

There is a job to be done to pull together the full information about how companies, unions, and other organisations responded and what they did – and are still doing – to assist those affected by the typhoon.

Companies - shipping, ship management, crewing and associated maritime - raised and donated significant sums of money for relief and reconstruction.

Many companies organised fundraising and donated to funds to relief organisations, such as the Philippines Red Cross working in the affected areas. Others used the funds raised to directly assist their seafarers with financial and material support. Some companies funded the re-building of homes, schools, and hospitals.

The ICS also donated funds as well as helping to co-ordinate help and assistance. Intermanager galvanised its members and other to assist and sought out donations for maritime associated companies.

As well as funds companies assisted in moving relief supplies to the affected areas as well as providing personnel. Companies also assisted training schools that had been damaged and helped cadets whose families had been injured or killed. Many companies raised hundreds of thousands of US$.

Maritime trade unions also responded. AMOSUP's training ship the Felix Oca, was used in conjunction with the Norwegian shipowners was used to deliver relief supplies. The ITF Seafarers Trust donated US$160,000 to PSU and AMOSUP. Both unions over the following months carried out relief and reconstruction work and continue to do so. AMOSUP for instance sent medical teams to Cebu to assist as well as conducting assessments for longer term relief & reconstruction.

Welfare organisations such as Stella Maris, Mission to Seafarers, and Sailors Society also quickly responded to the typhoon. As well as providing free phone calls for seafarers back home the welfare organisations also provided emotional and pastoral support to seafarers in foreign ports who were anxious about their families back home.

So while a lot has happened over the past year more still needs to be done.

Many seafarer families lost their livelihoods so there is a need to help these families get back on their feet by providing training and small loans.

Reconstruction continues. Many more new homes need to be built to replace those destroyed by the typhoon. While many homes have been completed many more are needed. And they need to be built faster. I realise that there are many complexities involved including logistic problems and issues around land ownership but families are still living in temporary and makeshift housing.

Funds raised for reconstruction need to reach the communities for where it is intended. More needs to be done to ensure that there is closer scrutiny so corruption and profiteering is minimised. Local politics should not get in the way of reconstruction efforts.

There are many lessons to be learnt from the maritime industry's response :

  • There is a need for co-ordination and partnership working – co-operation not competition
  • Work with people on the ground and local communities
  • Involve national or local NGO's with experience of disaster relief and community development

Let's not forget – the cameras have gone away but the challenge to rebuild lives still remains.

The new edition of the ISWAN Seafarer Centre Directory has been printed and is now being distributed to nearly 400 seafarer centres around the world. Thanks to a generous grant from the ITF Seafarers' Trust, ISWAN has been able to update the directory in hardcopy and online here, with an added geo-map of centre locations that will make it easier for the seafarer to find the centre.

The directory is also available as a downloadable pdf at the foot of this page.

The directory includes 429 bona-fide seafarer centres, all operating for the welfare of seafarers. It lists available facilities, contact details and opening hours, and it continues to be extremely valuable to seafarers looking for their nearest centre. Many centres are able to offer free or cheap Wi-Fi, refreshments, recreational facilities and friendly supportive staff; all of which can be a great comfort to seafarers who have been at sea for long periods of time.

A total of 60,000 copies of the directory are being printed and distributed to centres, welfare workers and a number of ships with the help of Wrist Ship Supply. The directories have been printed in the UK, India, and the Philippines. We estimate that over 250,000 seafarers will be able to make use of the new directory.

For more information about the new edition of the seafarers' centre directory, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A new video for seafarers on the Ebola virus has been produced for seafarers. There is also a free training package for every seafarer. See here for download.

The International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2015 were launched on 10 November 2014. For seafarers, the backbone of the industry, welfare services and facilities can be a life line when working away from home for long periods of time.

These awards recognise excellence in the provision of welfare services by shipping companies, welfare organisations, ports and individuals - on ship and ashore. They showcase good practice in the industry, and highlight the commitment and dedication shown by many - in the service to seafarers.

With nominations now open, we encourage seafarers to recognise those that have shown them exceptional service this year. We urge seafarers to nominate for the award categories: Seafarers' Centre of the Year; Shipping Company of the Year; Port of the Year; and The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year.

The winners of the 2014 International Seafarers' Welfare Awards were:

  • Shipping Company of the Year: Wallem Ship Management
  • Port of the Year: Port of Antwerp (Belgium)
  • Seafarer Centre of the Year: The Flying Angel, Fremantle (Australia)
  • The Dr Dierk Lindemann Welfare Personality of the Year: Fr Paul Noel (Durban, South Africa)
  • Judges' Special Award: Apinya Tajit (Sri Racha, Thailand)

Roger Harris, Executive Director, International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network said "Seafarers make a massive contribution to all of our lives. Without them global trade would grind to a halt. They deserve to have excellent welfare services and facilities wherever they are in the world. These awards recognise the considerable efforts that organisations and individuals make to improve the lives of seafarers."

The International Seafarers' Welfare Awards 2015 will be held at the International Maritime Organisation in London on 9 June 2015 and will be presented by Mr Koji Sekimizu, Secretary General of the IMO. The awards are organised by the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), and supported by the International Chamber of Shipping, International Transport Workers' Federation; International Christian Maritime Association; International Labour Organisation; the International Maritime Organisation.

Sponsors of the awards include Crewtoo, Wrist Ship Supply, and Garrets.

The awards are funded by a grant from the ITF Seafarers Trust.

Nominations close on 2 February 2015.

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The rescue of all persons in distress at sea – including illegal migrants – is an obligation under international maritime law, as well as being a long established humanitarian duty, says the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and ISWAN member. ICS is the global trade association for commercial ship operators, whose ships are currently involved on a daily basis in the rescue of refugees at sea in the Mediterranean.

Whatever may be decided by policy makers in EU Member States, the legal and humanitarian obligation of merchant ships to provide assistance to anyone in distress at sea will remain unchanged, says ICS.

Commenting on new reports that some European Union Ministers have expressed concerns that search and rescue operations have acted as a 'pull factor' for illegal migration, encouraging people to make dangerous crossings in the expectation of rescue, ICS notes that merchant ships are legally required to rescue persons in distress at sea by the UN International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS), to which virtually every maritime nation is a Party.

Under SOLAS, and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, the obligation of the ship Master to render assistance is complemented by a corresponding obligation of IMO Member States to co-operate in rescue situations, thereby relieving the Master of the responsibility to care for survivors, and allowing individuals who are rescued at sea in such circumstances to be delivered promptly to a place of safety.

The shipping industry is therefore very concerned by reports that the new EU Frontex operation 'Triton' will have a third of the budget of the current Italian 'Mare Nostrum' operation which it replaces, that its primary focus will be border control, and that search and rescue operations may be reduced in international waters.

It will clearly be much more difficult for merchant ships to save lives at sea without the adequate provision of search and rescue services by EU Member States. Moreover, whenever a ship performs its legal and humanitarian obligations, it will continue to be incumbent on EU Member States to ensure that those who are rescued can be readily disembarked at the next port of call, even when they may lack documentation.

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