Iswan, Worldwide

The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) assists seafarers and their families and campaigns for greater rights for maritime workers.

Seafarers, who are responsible for transporting 95 percent of the world's goods, are often overlooked. With the fast turnaround of ships in ports, being on board for months at a time, reduced crew numbers and increased workloads, the lives of seafarers are often tough. Seafarers face long periods away from their family and friends with limited or no communication for weeks on end. Welfare facilities and services both onboard and ashore can be a lifeline for seafarers.

ISWAN offers a comprehensive support to help them cope with their long periods away from home and manage critical situations at sea. It has created a 24 hour/365 days multilingual helpline called SeafarerHelp to assist seafarers in any moment. It campaigns against non-registered crewing agencies that act illegally by charging seafarers for jobs at sea; responds to crises and traumatic events faced by seafarers including maritime disasters, deaths at sea and accidents; supports seafarers and their families affected by piracy and armed robbery; and promotes the mental wellbeing of seafarers. ISWAN also works to promote equal employment opportunities for women in the maritime sector.

The programme, for instance, assisted the five Filipino seafarers from the vessel MT Asteris who were unjustly imprisoned in Nigeria and finally released in July 2018. Other stories include saving an aspiring young Indian cadet from joining a non-registered manning agent scam; supporting a Filipino seafarer diagnosed with hepatitis C who could no longer support his family by giving him a grant to pay for his medical tests and treatment; and helping seven Bangladeshi seafarers who were forcefully removed from their tanker and abandoned without pay in Nigeria.

© Zay Yar Lin

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