Participants from ITF affiliated unions from Lebanon, Oman, Iraq and Yemen attended a training and education seminar in Beirut on the 17-18 of June, following the first training session held in Tangiers in February.
“The training and the development of contacts in the Arab World region is central to the ITF’s strategic and continuous approach to offer better and more efficient support to seafarers calling Arab World ports,” said ITF inspectorate coordinator Steve Trowsdale.
“As with our Latin American network, we want to increase our capacity to provide assistance, solidarity and credible support to seafarers in these countries, but also increase our capacity to organise and gather intelligence on key targets for ITF maritime campaigns,’ he said.
In a historic step in the region, the ITF secured a ship visit for the first time in Syria immediately following the seminar on June 19, organising a delegation of Syrian and Lebanese union officials to board the Syrian-flagged Lady Caroline at the Port of Latakia to visit the stranded crew on board.
“This is the first time that the ITF has boarded a vessel in Syria, and more importantly been able to offer assistance and solidarity to the abandoned crew,” said ITF inspector and Arab World contact network lead Mohamed Arrachedi
Nasser Nazzal, president of the Lebanese Seaman’s Syndicate and the new ITF contact in Lebanon, and Samir Haydar, president of the Seafarers Syndicate of Syria, boarded the ship and delivered financial assistance for the crew to buy food, water, phone cards and basic provisions.
"The vessel has been arrested in court, and the 13 seafarers from Syria, India, Egypt and Turkey have launched a legal claim for their owed wages and repatriation,” said Arrachedi.
“We will continue to work with our contacts and unions to offer assistance to secure the crew repatriation and their outstanding wages. We’re committed to mobilise this network to respond to any worker under threat at the hands of unscrupulous shipowners.”