Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ocean Freight Victims of Piracy Supported by Seafarers Charity

Six and a Half Million Pounds Disbursed to Good Causes
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE - The Seafarers’ Trust, the charity arm of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), has just released details of its latest £6.5 million donations bringing the total given in grants so far in 2011 to £9 million. The cross-industry Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) involving representatives from across the container shipping and bulk freight community which was officially launched in London in September, and today published its first guides to helping piracy victims, receives £750,000 over three years as part of its £3.3 million programme to address the problems facing seafarers and the families of freight and other ocean going vessels affected by piracy.

The launch of the MPHRP was covered in full in our article at the time including films showing the dire straits which many of the victims and their families found themselves in and the money from the Trust will be more than welcome.

The £6.5 million will go to five different projects dealing with the welfare of seafarers. The largest grant, of £5 million, goes to Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) for a five year programme to develop the progress it has already achieved in advancing the legal rights of seafarers, including its work on criminalisation, abandonment and piracy. The other recipients include Seafarerhelp, the 24 hour multilingual helpline for seafarers; a project to increase the capacity of the Philippines seafarers’ health services to deal with blood cancers, in conjunction with a large teaching hospital in Genoa, and the German Seamens Mission seafarers hostel in Bremerhaven, which gets funding to improve its accommodation for seafarers.

The ITF Seafarers Trust was established by the ITF in 1981 as a body with charitable status under UK law. It is dedicated to the spiritual, moral and physical welfare of seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race or creed. Its funding comes from the investment income of the ITF welfare fund, which is used to provide a trade union services to seafarers. The Seafarers’ Trust, on the other hand, is tasked with supporting projects which directly benefit individual seafarers' spiritual, moral or physical welfare. Tom Holmer, the organisations administrative officer said:

“In spite of very difficult conditions within the maritime industry, the Trust sees the importance of supporting good projects with major expenditure when the opportunities are there to benefit seafarers. In response to our request for vehicle and communication-related applications early this year, we have a number of projects in the pipeline in these two priority areas. We cannot give away as much next year as we have done this year, but we will continue to do all we can to support those working with seafarers.”

For those interested in the first tranche of guides designed to help seafarers and their families cope with the physical and mental trauma caused by torture and abuse at the hands of pirates they can be downloaded HERE.