On 1 November, 19 months since their first meeting amid the early days of the Russian ground invasion, Friar Olegsander (Alex) Smerechynskyy and Human Rights at Sea CEO David Hammond had the opportunity to reunite and share updates.
Back in March 2022, their initial meeting took place in a tense environment. Russian amphibious forces were poised off-shore, and missile strikes were a common occurrence in residential coastal areas and the port of Odesa.
This time, they were joined by Maksym Sliusarevsky, a union leader for port workers, to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by seafarers and port workers struggling against difficult working conditions.
Prior to the international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian seafarers were a significant part of the total global commercial seafaring workforce.
Today, while many Ukrainian seafarers remain away at sea between contracts, those who remain have fought to protect their country and their families while seeking alternative employment opportunities.
With Russian drone and missile attacks on port infrastructure, particularly after the collapse of the grain deal, economic warfare is ongoing, and these workers are often at the forefront.
David Hammond commented, “Reconnecting with Alex and Maksym was incredibly valuable. The need to support essential maritime workers remains as crucial as ever. These face-to-face discussions contribute to the ongoing international awareness of the far-reaching consequences of this war, which includes the impact on maritime and coastal communities.”
Our charity remains dedicated to staying connected with those on the front lines, seafarers, and port workers who continue to face difficult challenges due to the conflict.
We reaffirm our commitment to being a strong advocate for the maritime community in Ukraine and beyond and ensuring their human rights are not forgotten, and we will continue to be an unwavering ally in pursuing justice and dignity for maritime workers.
*Stella Maris UK provides financial support to Stella Maris Ukraine.
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