UAE issues new protection for seafarers

23 January 2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime has issued a circular requiring all UAE-flagged ships trading internationally and all ships operating in UAE waters above 200 gross tons to have a contract of insurance to protect seafarers.

The insurance relates to cases of abandonment, death or serious injury of seafarers and covers up to four months’ owed contractual wages and entitlements. The measure is due to enter into force on 20th February, 2018.

‘Hundreds of Indian seafarers have been subjected to inhumane treatment on board a few merchant vessels and gone through an extremely difficult ordeal,’ said Chirag Bahri, ISWAN’s Regional Director – South Asia. ‘Some of these incidents took place in UAE waters so it is a very welcome step by the UAE Government to safeguard the basic rights of seafarers in their waters and internationally.

‘ISWAN’s 24-hour, free, multilingual helpline, SeafarerHelp, has registered a number of such cases over the last few months and has extended moral humanitarian support to the crew. A few seafarers have sadly lost their lives due to an accident on board such ships and others have to go through long, impatient and very stressful lives with little or no food, no power and having to survive in extreme, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the ship. Their families, who had taken out loans to send to their loved ones in order to maintain their livelihood, are equally the worst sufferers. In one of the cases, the families of the seafarers who died in an accident on board seven months ago are still waiting for any compensation or any such relief from the ship owner. This has led to a loss of trust and aggregated more financial stress on the grieving families.’

Recent reports suggest that the UAE will soon ratify the Maritime Labour Convention. Chirag Bahri added: ‘It is hoped that such incidents will eventually die down and the seafarers will get the due dignity and respect that they deserve by working on vessels at high seas. ISWAN welcomes the decision of the UAE Federal Transport Authority and hopes that it will enforce such ship owners who had previously abandoned crew to look after them as a valuable and precious asset serving on board.’

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