Marine Link
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Middle East Marine Put on Blast for 'Worst Case of Serial Seafarer Abandonment Ever Seen'

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 6, 2024

(Photo courtesy International Transport Workers’ Federation)

(Photo courtesy International Transport Workers’ Federation)

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is calling out Dubai-based ship management company Middle East Marine LLC for what it described as "the worst case of serial seafarer abandonment ever seen", involving the systematic abuse and neglect of more than 100 seafarers.

Since November 2022, the ITF has reported over 17 abandonments across 18 vessels in Bangladesh, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Seafarers from India, Indonesia and Myanmar have been left in dire conditions including the provision of dirty drinking water, lack of food, withholding of passports and medication, refusing ill crew hospital visits, and unpaid wages – acts considered human and labor rights abuses.

One seafarer, from Indonesia, said, “My salary hasn’t been paid for more than three months – but there are some crew members unpaid for as long as seven months. The company did not supply provisions and fresh water – sometimes we were just fishing for survival. All crew members are getting depressed, and our families are getting in debt to survive.”

Another seafarer, from India, told the ITF, “My mental state is not good due to the company treating us like this.”

Under international law – the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended – seafarers should be paid at least once per month. Crews owed two months or more of pay or who are not provided with sufficient food, water and fuel are considered to have been abandoned, which should trigger action by insurers and the ship’s Flag State – the country where the ship is registered – in this case Palau.

The ITF said it is calling on the United Arab Emirates government and the Palau maritime authorities to act to end seafarers’ suffering and uphold international maritime and human rights law. The organization said it has not received a single response from the Palau maritime authorities.

“Seafarers’ lives are not collateral for any company,” said Steve Trowsdale, ITF's Inspectorate Coordinator. “We are extremely concerned about the welfare of the crews affected by Middle East Marine’s woeful business and the sheer scale of the abandonments.  

“It’s hard to comprehend how a company registered in the UAE can behave like this with impunity. Middle East Marine is a stain on the global maritime industry.”

"It's been shocking to see seafarers facing such extreme exploitation, dangerous working conditions and limited rights. No pay, inadequate living conditions, lack of legal protections, and restricted freedom of movement – it's akin to modern-day indentured servitude," said Sandra Bernal, ITF's Network Coordinator Asia Pacific Region.