The majority of the crew of a ship that have gone unpaid and lacking in basic human requirements finally flew home over the weekend.
For the last few months nine Pakistani crew onboard a reefer, the MV Belita, have been stranded in Port Victoria in the Seychelles.
The crew said they have had no drinking water, food or fuel, meaning that the crew had to sleep on deck due to the lack of light and fresh air, in the end the Port authority installed pilotage lights to protect vessel. The crew also had to collect rain water for drinking water, until the rain ceased. They told how they used their meager savings to buy rice and beans supplemented by fish they themselves caught.
The crew had previously been on another vessel owned by same company where again they said they had received no salary or food. On the promise of being paid the crew transferred to the vessel in the Seychelles, meaning they had not been paid for six months.
Numerous emails to the shipping company went unanswered.
Albert Napier, National Director of seafarers’ charity the Apostleship of the Sea detailed how over this period the crew’s physical and psychological health suffered.
“Their worry at this time was compounded by the knowledge that their lack of pay was causing stress for their families with children not sent to school and family loans going unpaid.” said Mr. Napier.
The Apostleship of the Sea visited the crew regularly, working with the agents and port authorities and other welfare agencies to provide practical and emotional support for the crew and to ensure their repatriation.
Two crew remain on the vessel and are being supported by the Apostleship of the Sea.