COVID Relief Fund for Seafarers Raises $1M in Three Months

seafarers charity
ISWAN vaccination drive in Bengaluru, India, supported by SIRF (Courtesy The Seafarers Charity)

Published Aug 17, 2021 5:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

An emergency relief fund set up by five charities has raised more than $1 million to provide support to seafarers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF), a joint appeal launched by The Seafarers’ Charity, The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors’ Society and Stella Maris, has raised a total of about $1.17 million over the span of its first three months in operation. Personal and corporate donors have dug deep, includign NYK Line, which recently made a substantial donation. GasLog, ADNOC Logistics & Services, Bureau Veritas, Denholm Group and the TK Foundation have also given generously, according to SIRF.

“We are thrilled to have exceeded our target of $1 million. This was an ambitious goal, but one that reflected the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, particularly in India, where many seafaring communities have been badly affected, through lives lost and severe health impacts, as well as the personal costs for the livelihoods of seafarers. To have reached this goal in less than three months is a wonderful testament to shipping’s global community," said Catherine Spencer, CEO of The Seafarers’ Charity.
The SIRF appeal was launched in May when the Delta variant outbreak began to affect Indian seafarers. Due to the risk posed by Delta, many port states and vessel operators began to restrict Indian seafarers' movement and employment, with serious financial consequences for these seafarers and their families. SIRF's grants are intended to address these issues; recent allocations include funding for Stella Maris to provide food parcels to more than 1,000 seafaring families in Kochi, India, plus funding for support workers to deliver post-COVID medical care, counselling and therapy. It has also supported vaccination drives and COVID medical care.
SIRF is now looking to extend its reach to other seafarer countries of origin that have been hit by COVID-19, including Indonesia and the Philippines.
“The funds raised will continue to support our work in India, where thanks to our delivery partners, we have been able to respond rapidly to the needs of those at risk. This has included funding for oxygenators, COVID care kits, food aid, and post-COVID support, as well as supporting a vaccination drive for seafarers," said Spencer. "However, the pandemic is far from over, and the situation remains bleak in many nations. SIRF is looking at what we can do to help support seafarers in other countries, but this relies on your help."

The aid group continues to welcome individual and corporate donations, and it says that fully 100 percent of the funds will go to help seafarers and their families.