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Maritime Charity Column: Supporting seafarers during global conflict by Stella Maris CEO and European regional coordinator Martin Foley

1 June 2022

Stella Maris CEO and European regional coordinator Martin Foley says the war in Ukraine is once again highlighting the importance of shipping to the world economy. We must not forget its impact on seafarers and their families.

Stella Maris chaplains have met Ukrainian and Russian seafarers united in their heartbreak at what is happening, and across the world have been working hard to help them keep in contact with their families back home.

Our Stella Maris personnel have all remained in the port city of Odesa to support seafarers and their families. Many seafarers are stranded in the Black Sea; local families are trying to flee; and fearful crews away at sea are anxiously trying to contact loved ones back home. Everyone is affected.

One of my colleagues in Ukraine told me, 'It's impossible to say what it's like for these seafarers. I spoke to a ship master who could hear rocket attacks overhead, but he must stay on board. We continue to help families, especially the wives and kids, to get to the borders. My colleagues across Europe help Ukrainian crews connect with loved ones.'

In Poland, we're using a Stella Maris centre there to provide emergency accommodation for up to 50 people, mainly women and children. This 'home away from home' is a vital source of refuge and respite. Nearly every day brings another request for accommodation from a seafarer for themselves or their families. Listening to the seafarers on the phone, their anxiety and weariness is palpable.

Stella Maris is doing all it can to ensure that seafarers and their families, on whom our society depends for so much, are not collateral victims of this war. No-one knows how long this help will be needed, but with the support of our global partners we will continue to welcome those who seek our help.

The maritime charity column is a regular feature in the Nautilus Telegraph. Submissions are invited from a range of organisations by the Telegraph editor.


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