Russia’s Mission to the International Maritime Organization has declared that there will be a “humanitarian maritime corridor” in the Black Sea.
The Mission wrote to IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim announcing that there would be a 139 mile long, 3 mile wide safe corridor operating daily from 08:00 to 19:00 (Universal Time plus three hours). The corridor will allow for the safe passage of merchant ships from the Ukranian ports of Chernomorsk, Kehrson, Mykolaiv, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhne as of 27 May 2022.
Moscow’s declaration follows on from the International Maritime Organization’s Council 35th Extraordinary Session of 10-11 March 2022. At that meeting, Secretary General Lim declared that the global maritime community was “seriously concerned about shipping operations, safety of ships and [the] welfare of seafarers in the wake of the security situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov”, he said, adding that, “shipping, particularly seafarers, cannot be collateral victims in a larger political and military crisis”.
On 11 March 2022, in an official statement, the IMO Council
- recalled that the purposes of the IMO is to promote safe, secure and environmentally sound shipping
- recalled that Ukraine has, on multiple occasions, expressed its grave concerns about the Russian Federations unlawful unilateral actions in Crimea and the their consequences for the safety and security of navigation in the northern part of the Black Sea and associated areas
- strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of a United Nations Member State, extending to its territorial waters, which was inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the purposes of IMO as set forth in Article 1 of the Convention and represents a grave danger to life and serious risk to safety of navigation
- deplored the attacks of the Russian Federation aimed at commercial vessels, their seizures, including Search-and-Rescue vessels, threatening the safety and welfare of seafarers and the marine environment
- demanded that the Russian Federation cease its unlawful activities to ensure the safety and welfare of seafarers and the security of international shipping and the marine environment in all affected areas
- underscored the need to preserve the security of international shipping and the maritime community, and the supply chains that sustain other nations.
The Council also agreed to encourage the set-up, as a provisional and urgent measure, of a blue safe maritime corridor to allow the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from high risk areas to a safe place.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. By about mid-March about 2,000 seafarers and over 100 vessels were stranded in northern Black Sea ports. As of April 20, 2022, 84 merchant ships remained with nearly 500 seafarers on board, global insurer Allianz reported.
The 500 who remained behind on-board were working as skeleton crew, the International Chamber of Shipping reported.
Despite the creation of a safe corridor, the sea space in the northern Black Sea remains dangerous. NATO has reported that drifting mines have been detected in the Western Black Sea. NATO is also warning of the threat of collateral damage or direct hits on civilian shipping, along with the threat of GPS jamming, AIS spoofing, communications jamming, electronic attacks and cyber attacks.
The IMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the preservation of the marine environment.
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The tragic situation in Ukraine is causing extreme hardship to seafarers around the world. The Seafarers International Relief Fund has launched an appeal to the maritime industry to support seafarers and their families. The Fund is managed by The Seafarers’ Charity.
The Fund is addressing basic human welfare needs – shelter, food, water, transport, access to medical services and practical help.
The International Chamber of Shipping has provided information on the Fund and the Seafarers’ Charity here.
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