Crew Sent Home After Thirteen Months Marooned Off Tunisia
After being left abandoned off the Tunisian coast without wages, food and fuel, 12 seafarers on board the Qaaswa have been sent home.
The have spent the last 13 months marooned off the Port of Sfax.
The ITF said the situation is one of most notorious cases of abandonment that the ITF has seen in years, and the third crew on board the UAE-flagged tanker that have been successfully repatriated after being abandoned at sea by Alco Shipping Services.
The crew of 12 from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar flew home on May 31, each with thousands of dollars in unpaid wages, totaling $130,952 for the eight months that they were owed.
The ITF has continued to intervene over the past three years to assist, repatriate and recover wages for seafarers stranded on the Qaaswa and provided the crew with provisions and drinking water.
“We’re thankful that this crew have been successfully repatriated to their home countries. They have suffered and starved,” said Steve Trowsdale, ITF inspectorate coordinator.
“We are going home after 13 months,” said one of the seafarers before flying home. “Thanks to ITF and special thanks to Mohamed Arrachedi and Captain Majed for your assistance. We are going home with our wages. Thank you very much.”
ITF inspector and Arab World contact network lead Mohamed Arrachedi congratulated the Tunisian union and UAE authorities for their actions in support of the seafarers. “No seafarer should have to go through the experience that the crews aboard the Qaaswa have endured. We vow to remain vigilant, to remain alert to cases like this. The abandonment of seafarers is a cancer of the maritime industry that all actors in the industry must work together to eradicate,” said Arrachedi.
Last year, the Government of India blacklisted two UAE companies, Alco Shipping Services and Shah Al Arab Marine Agency, for seafarer abandonment. The decision was prompted after Indian seafarers were left stranded in Dubai for 22 months on board eight ships.
In 2014, the Maritime Labour Convention was amended to introduce a financial security system to cover the costs of repatriation, four months unpaid wages and essential supplies for abandoned seafarers. These amendments came into force in January 2017. Since then, the ITF has been monitoring cases of abandonment around the world.