UAE committed to protecting rights of seafarers
The UAE will do what it can to assist seafarers abandoned by ship owners, a top official said on Wednesday.
The official said the UAE has signed international agreements to protect the rights of seafarers as well as issued circulars on ship companies that have mistreated their workers.
The comments were made by Dr Abdullah Mohammad Bel Haif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development, during a press briefing about the UAE’s participation at the International Day of the Seafarer conference that took place in Poland earlier this month.
“We have recently signed an agreement with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) that will help and assist them with their mission,” Dr Al Nuaimi said referencing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed in May between the Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime (FTA) and the ITF. Under the agreement, the UAE will work with the ITF to protect the rights of seafarers in the UAE’s waters.
“The signing of the MoU is a part of the FTA’s efforts to preserve the rights of seafarers on board ships to work in a safe working environment and enjoy decent living conditions, as well as provide insurance on the responsibilities of ship owners towards seafarers in the event of abandonment of seafarers on-board national and foreign vessels anchored in the UAE’s territorial waters,” Al Nuaimi said.
“The authority undertakes daily follow-ups by telephone and email, or by holding meetings with companies managing those vessels or vessel owners, in addition to the masters of the harbours at which those vessels are anchored. Moreover, the FTA coordinates with the ITF to assist in fulfilling the obligations of ship owners to assume their responsibilities towards the seafarers, pay their entitlements and transfer them to their home countries upon their request,” he added.
Dr Al Nuaimi said UAE-based agencies such as the Emirates Red Crescent were also helping abandoned seafarers, providing them with support and aid.
“Governments generally are not responsible for abandoned ships in the middle of the sea … [But in] the UAE we have agencies that work in human rights and we will not allow people to remain on the sea without interfering or assisting them. We have seen many agencies in the UAE … including the Emirates Red Crescent doing their job in assisting people on the sea.”
Dr Al Nuaimi explained that the UAE would be diligent towards UAE-based shipping companies that mistreated their workers, but the responsibility of foreign shipping companies lays with their countries of origin.
“For carriers that carry the UAE flag, we chase them anywhere in the world, but for ships that carry other flags, these countries should actually be responsible for assisting, harbouring them and doing whatever it takes.
“We have assisted many ships that have not been carrying our flags … This is the duty of the captain of the ship, but we still have people who go to the ships assisting [the sailors that have been abandoned,” he added, highlighting how the UAE helps seafarers working for foreign shipping companies.
Dr Al Nuaimi said the FTA had also been issuing notices on its website on shipping companies that were mistreating their sailors. “It’s on our website. We also circulate notices to the International Maritime Organisation and they share this information with all of their members. So we circulate about the source [of the problem and the company].”