Stella Maris: Ukraine's Seafarers Need Help to Maintain Their Careers
Stella Maris is working with crewing agencies to help out-of-work Ukrainian seafarers remain employable
As war rages in eastern Ukraine, the world's attention is focused on the front and on the impact on the global economy - but the Russian invasion has also had profound effects on Ukrainian seafarers, who make up a significant percentage of the global fleet's officers and ratings.
Wartime mobilization measures prohibit all men of military age from leaving Ukraine, restricting the ability of Ukrainian seafarers to go to work. Thousands of others are with their families in other European nations, waiting for a return to some semblance of normalcy. An estimated 30,000 Ukrainian mariners are out of work, according to charity Stella Maris, and another 10,000 per month are coming off contract from ships around the world.
"Many of them face the difficult choice of whether to stay on board, or to come off their ships to be with families or help with the war efforts," said Martin Foley, the CEO of Stella Maris UK. "Stella Maris has been reaching out to crewing agencies to make sure that seafarers who seek help and residence in western Europe do not lose contact with the industry, and that they continue to get the training and support they need."
Stella Maris' local team remains on the ground in Odesa, which has largely been spared from the fighting but is still exposed to the risk of Russian missile strikes. There are an estimated 84 ships and 500 seafarers still stuck in Ukraine's Black Sea and Sea of Azov ports due to the Russian blockade, and Stella Maris is helping to keep them supplied with food.
The charity is also helping seafarers' families with emergency accommodations in Kaszuby, Poland, west of Gdansk. The need for care and counseling at this center continues to grow, according to Stella Maris.
So far, Stella Maris has brought in about $250,000 in donations to support seafarers who have been affected by the war, thanks in part to help from the industry. It will continue its fundraising efforts to ensure a steady flow of assistance.