Helpline Calls From Seafarers & Their Families Tripled Last Year Due To COVID-19 Pandemic: ISWAN
With calls and messages to its 24-hour helplines more than tripling last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has had a unique insight into the challenges faced by seafarers around the world.
ISWAN’s helpline team handled over 20,000 calls and messages from seafarers and their families seeking help and support between April 2020 and March 2021. The organisation’s 2020-21 Annual Review, released highlights some of the key issues seafarers have faced and how ISWAN has been able to help.
Almost a quarter of the cases handled by ISWAN over this period involved financial or debt problems as seafarers the world over found themselves unable to secure work at sea and families struggled to make ends meet. In response to this crisis, through relief funds administered by ISWAN more than US $272,000 in grants were awarded to those in desperate need.
Another particularly common issue was repatriation, as many seafarers and maritime students found themselves stranded abroad due to travel restrictions. With the help of ISWAN’s team in India, over 1,800 seafarers were safely returned home. In the Philippines, around 2,000 crew members left stranded in Manila, unable to get home due to the national lockdown, received daily deliveries of food from ISWAN’s regional team.