Human Rights at Sea publishes the first of a series of follow-up family-focused case studies for those 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 further reinforce public awareness of the debilitating issue of abandonment and 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 (IMO No. 9619763) for the last 25 months, who gave personal statements on behalf of the family to Human Rights at Sea.
He highlighted that: “It is a nightmare and mental harassment for him and his crew”, and went on to comment that: “Family support is ongoing, but there are limits for everyone. 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 authorised by Captain Swaminathan, highlights the battle to stay mentally strong for his crew and family while leading his team and coordinating other crews in the surrounding abandoned vessels.
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, left out of sight and mind, left out of the way from both scrutiny of vessel conditions, and a lack of readily available welfare and legal support through normal face-to-face contact.
His wife has simply stated: “I just want him home. I want his safety and I want him back”.
At the time of writing, the vessels first highlighted by Human Rights at Sea in the initial awareness case study published on 11 December 2018 remain abandoned offshore the UAE with no vessel arrest yet, nor apparent expedited route to crew wage recovery. Notably, and in the meantime, the UK-based welfare organisation ISWAN through local union support, has arranged for emergency payments to be made to all the crew’s families. 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 centralised 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.”