MtS to develop its Justice and Welfare work in the United Arab Emirates
THE MISSION TO SEAFARERS in the UAE (MtS) is enhancing its justice and welfare team in a bid to combat human rights abuses against seafarers by unscrupulous manning agencies and ship owners in the region. In the last two years, the team, based in Dubai, dealt with 298 vessels which had significant welfare issues involving more than 1,600 seafarers. The number of cases has steadily been on the increase as companies operating within the Gulf and Indian sub-continent face uncertain times.
“In any downturn, it is the seafarers who suffer the most,” says the Revd Dr Paul Burt, MtS regional director for the Gulf & South Asia and senior chaplain in the UAE. “We receive around three new cases each week and know of several ships within our area whose crews are facing exceptionally hard circumstances, and for whom we are currently unable to offer support. By increasing our justice team we will be able to help more seafarers in need – many of whom are often left without salary, food and water for months on end.”
For 55 years The Mission to Seafarers has provided chaplaincy services across the UAE, focusing on ports in the Northern Emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah where for the last ten years the world’s only floating seafarers’ centre has operated. As a result of the changing needs of seafarers, and the strategic need to focus on cases of crew mistreatment, MtS will retire its boat service MV Flying Angel.
“The Flying Angel has provided a valuable service visiting over 10,000 ships in the world’s second largest anchorage,” says Paul. “Since its creation in 2007, more than 120,000 crewmen and women have benefitted from its on board communications, lounge, library and shop, and whilst the decision to retire it has been a difficult one, we are proud of its achievements.”
When Flying Angel began there was nothing else like it, but today with good mobile phone coverage across the anchorage and increasing access to on board Wi-Fi on many of today’s newer vessels, the level of need is no longer as great as it was. A pastoral visit to any vessel in the anchorage which needs it will still be available on request.
“It is right that we should focus our work elsewhere within this important maritime hub,” says Paul. “Many of the vessels in Fujairah are heading to Asia or East Africa where the Mission has a significant presence. Our in-depth justice work is unique to this part of the world.”
The Flying Angel has received widespread support from businesses and foundations within the UAE and the international maritime community, including the Al Maktoum Foundation. The Mission to Seafarers would like to thank all those who have been involved with the service over the years and a suitable retirement ceremony will be planned in due course.
The current justice team of three full-time chaplains will be enhanced with a fourth operating in Abu Dhabi and the surrounding area, plus a suitably qualified welfare worker who will particularly service the ports of Dubai, Sharjah, Sharjah Hamriyah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. Justice cases range in severity but almost all include an element of non-payment of wages and many involve total abandonment. This justice work is in addition to the 15,000-20,000 seafarers who are visited on their ships each year through routine pastoral visits.
Case study on why we’re reinforcing our land-based operation:
Abandoned for 31 months
In 2013 MtS learned of two Filipino seafarers who were abandoned on an anti-piracy vessel. The vessel was caught up in a dispute about payment for engineering work carried out on it. The men had been left to fend for themselves. Most of the time they had no food or water.
MtS welfare officers supported them with regular deliveries of essential supplies and counselling. They also worked as their advocates, negotiating with all the disputing parties on their behalf. Eventually MtS was able to broker a deal where the men were allowed to go home in 2016 with a promise that when the vessel was sold they would get their salary. Their virtual imprisonment on that vessel had lasted 31 months.
Because they were unable to work or even get off the vessel, their professional certificates had expired. The Mission to Seafarers paid for the men to retrain and renew their certificates. As soon as they completed their courses they were able to get work again and their families could start to function normally after three years of poverty and distress.
For the Flying Angel, our grateful thanks for their generosity go to:
At inception, to build the Flying Angel:
The ITF Seafarers Trust
The TK Foundation
Albwardy Marine Engineering
The Nautical Institute (UAE Branch)
IMarEST (Dubai Branch)
Holy Trinity Church (Dubai)
The Roman Catholic Vicariate of Arabia
Fairmont Hotels (Dubai)
In keeping the Flying Angel running in the past ten years:-
The Al Maktoum Foundation
Topaz Energy and Marine
National Bank of Fujairah
The Nautical Institute (UAE Branch)
To learn more of the activities of MtS UAE please contact Revd Dr Paul Burt on +971 (0) 50 5526044.
If you would like to donate towards the work of MtS UAE please contact Catherine and/or Annie on +971 (0)50 456 1130.
Lloyd’s List Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards 2015
Zaude Paolo Bandivas wins the Seafarer of the Year Award, at the Lloyd’s List Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards.
The Lloyd’s List Awards series recognises the industry’s successes, setting a benchmark for excellence while rewarding innovative ideas and concepts that have pushed the boundaries of what is possible.
This year the Lloyd’s List Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards recognised many who had contributed to the changing nature of the shipping industry, with new awards given to the outstanding individuals shaping some of these changes and to the companies driving change with their training, environmental and humanitarian projects.
Zaude Paolo Bandivas won the Seafarer of the Year Award at the Lloyd’s List Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards, presented at the esteemed Armani Hotel Dubai on Wednesday 9th December 2015.
The Seafarer of the Year Award recognises skill, bravery and professionalism being demonstrated on a daily basis. The award celebrates instances of leadership, courage and vision while serving at sea. It is an acknowledgement of the seafarers whose tireless dedication is essential for the maritime industry.
The judges said that Zaude was a worthy winner of this award.
As an able bodied seaman Zaude was working on an anti-piracy vessel based in the Middle East when the owner of the vessel abandoned it and left Zaude stranded. He and a fellow crew member were left unpaid and often without supplies for a number of months. After two and a half years he was repatriated thanks in large to the work of the Mission to Seafarers.
Recipients are chosen from entries taken from the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent region and adjudicated by a distinguished judging panel which this year included: Craig Eason, Chair of Judging Panel and Deputy Editor of Lloyd’s List, Captain Saleem Alavi, Former Maritime Adviser and Director of the UAE Ship Registry, Adviser to the National Transport Authority, Adel Jebara Alfalahi, Adviser, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Nils Kristian Berge, Chief Executive Officer, Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard, Simon Brebner, Chief Commercial Officer, Abu Dhabi Terminals, Joseph Brincat, Regional Vice President, Middle East-American Bureau of Shipping, Simon Cartwright, Partner, Holman Fenwick Willan Middle East LLP, Lars Christiansen, Chief Trade Officer, United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), Michel Deleuran, Executive Vice President, Milaha, H.E Prof. Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghafar PhD, President, Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), Marcus Machin, Director- Middle East, Tufton Oceanic, Arun Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Register of Shipping.
The awards are managed by Lloyd’s List - leading maritime commerce since 1734. – Lloyd’s List provides information, analysis and knowledge for business decision makers in a changing and increasingly complex shipping environment.
To see the full list of Lloyd’s List Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards winners please visit:
Dubai Today’s Suzanne spent a day on board The Flying Angel and met with some of the seafarers and found out what life is like for them and some of the emotional challenges they face. Click below and hear how she got on and from Dr Paul Burt from Mission to Seafarers, Angel Appeal Fundraiser Theresa Dommett and cross cultural psychologist Samineh Shaheem. Check out the link for full program and photos.
Viva Magazine has published an article about "Life at Sea" in their November issue. The article highlights The Flying Angel and how important it is to the seafarers in the anchorage in Fujairah. It also highlights the difficulties that seafarers face from loneliness to piracy. The article is attached but pick up the November issue of Viva for all of the details.
Abdullah Khan hasn't stepped off his chemical tanker in four months.
The ship's 35-year-old Karachi-born first officer clambers down a rope ladder from the 147-metre long Purwati on to the deck of the Flying Angel bobbing below in the waters off Fujairah.
In August 2010, Katy Watson from the BBC Middle East Business report came out on the Flying Angel. She experienced first hand the terrible plight of abandoned crews as the first ship we visited was Azrak 7, a ship whose owner had dissapeared leaving the crew with no pay, no food and no water. It was the middle of the summer and the heat was unbearable. Please watch this clip to see the conditions these men were living in.