7 April 2022, London / Odesa
More than 100 people seeking refuge from the conflict in Ukraine have been supported to reach safety as part of a joint humanitarian initiative set up by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) and global ship manager V.Group.
The initiative is focused on helping seafarers and their families, many of whom live around port regions like Odesa and Mariupol. The founding partners provide the following update as the efforts reach their third week:
Oleg Grygoriuk, Chairman of MTWTU, said:
“Many seafarers families are at the epicentre of the military actions taking place in key maritime cities in Ukraine. We do our best to ensure safety for seafarers' families. Prior to the start of this project, we helped more than 60 people to cross the border using MTWTU resources.”
“We gained valuable experience and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue this project, which definitely is the number one priority for seafarers’ families now,” he said.
Katie Higginbottom, Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, said:
“In less than three weeks we have helped more than 100 people reach safe and secure accommodation and provided support as they plan their onward journeys. Today we heard that three families managed to make the move from Kherson to Odesa and will be on their way to safety on the next bus out this week.”
“We can barely imagine the levels of courage and endurance required to take these perilous journeys. We continue to call for industry partners to join our initiative so that we can keep the project running for as long as it is needed and help as many families as possible,” she said.
Allan Falkenberg, Chief Operating Officer of V.Group, said:
“We remain concerned about the safety and wellbeing of all seafarers and their families, and this project is one way we can provide practical support. The initiative has been established to help all Ukrainian seafarer families, regardless of their affiliation or employer.”
“We’ve had a high number of people register interest in accessing support and we expect the level of demand to continue. The initiative is clearly making a significant difference to families with over one hundred people so far having reached safe accommodation.”
“This is a fast-moving situation and it is imperative that we continue to work together with our colleagues in the ITF and MTWTU to help as many people as possible. We now encourage more organisations in the industry to partner with us,” he said.
Quotes from seafarers and seafarers’ family members assisted to safety through the initiative:
- Larysa (f), a seafarer’s daughter: “Last Sunday my parents drove off with you. Today they have already boarded the train to move further. I am grateful to you - my heart was in peace as you took care of them.”
- Oleg (m), a seafarer: “Thank you for helping the seafarers' families to leave the country at this difficult time for Ukraine. Our whole family is grateful to you for the opportunity to save our lives and health."
- Taras (m), a seafarer: “Thank you! It was really difficult to get to Odesa from Kherson: my wife and son were waiting for the end of the attacks as they were at the epicentre. But thank God they are alive and okay, and now they are in a safe place thanks to you. A low bow to you and sincere gratitude!”
- Iryna (f), a seafarer’s wife: “Thank you for organising the ride, for giving us such an opportunity. These days it is a salvation for lots of us."
- Yulia (f), a seafarer’s sister: “We sincerely thank the MTWTU for their support and the opportunity of evacuation - soon we will be safe. Sadly, we are leaving our home. Now, your care is invaluable to us."
- Photos of seafarers and their families fleeing Odesa are available for media here: , , 
- Seafarers’ families seeking to leave Ukraine and wishing for assistance from the initiative, should register here: seafarer.help
- Companies wishing to contribute to this initiative should contact:
- Quotes from seafarers and their family members are English translations. Efforts have been made to avoid any change in meaning.
About the partners:
- V.Group is a leading global ship management and marine services provider, with 2,750 colleagues based across 60 offices globally, supporting over 44,000 personnel in marine and offshore roles.
- The Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine unites more than 80,000 members including seafarers and port workers. The MTWTU is the only maritime ITF affiliate union in Ukraine.
- The ITF Seafarers’ Trust is a UK charity established in 1981, funding programmes that advance the wellbeing of maritime workers, seafarers and their families. It is funded by the Trust’s own capital, and by the investment income of the Welfare Fund at the International Transport Workers Federation.
- The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.
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