SAILOR’S Society has launched a crisis appeal to support Ukrainian seafarers impacted by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian seafarers account for 4% of the global seafaring community, according to the 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report from ICS and BIMCO.

At the time of the report’s publication, this equated to more than 76,000 Ukrainian nationals working on merchant vessels.

A statement from the Sailor’s Society said seafarers’ jobs are already difficult, but the conflict has made life at sea even more challenging.

It said Ukrainian seafarers need urgent support, and their families now require additional welfare grants to pay for food, transport, medicine, and shelter.

Sailor’s Society CEO Sara Baade said those at sea may be thousands of miles away from friends and family, anxious and powerless to help as the crisis escalates.  

“I have been talking to our chaplains about their conversations with those affected,” Ms Baade said.  

“All are extremely concerned for the safety of their families. Some are frightened to return to their country, as they know it will mean taking up arms.

“Many sob as they talk about their fears and frustrations. This is tearing them apart.”

Sailor’s Society is maximising its support amidst the conflict through an increase in emergency grants for seafarers and their families.

The charity is also drafting in more trained staff to resource its Crisis Response Network, which provides financial and mental support for those impacted by traumatic events.

It is also increasing its capacity to respond to a larger number of calls on its helpline.

“I’m so thankful that we can be there for them – to listen and comfort, to pray by their sides and provide Wi-Fi units, so they can call their loved ones, hear their voices, and share messages of love and support,” Ms Baade said.

The charity has also set up three peer-to-peer support groups through WhatsApp, which will facilitate assistance and support between seafarers impacted by the conflict.

Two support groups will allow Ukrainian and Russian seafarers to connect with other crews from their respective countries in their own languages.

The third group will connect seafarers from other nationalities, who may be serving under officers from Russia or Ukraine who are concerned about their homes and families.

Sailor’s Society is also supporting its chaplains in Ukraine, who are trying to keep their own families safe while helping their communities.