With concerns about the safety of seafarers and vessels trapped in Ukraine mounting, European Union governments on Wednesday called on the International Maritime Organization to take immediate action to relieve them.
France, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, is leading the initiative.
Greek shipping minister Yiannis Plakiotakis, who revealed the effort in a statement on his ministry’s website, personally contacted IMO secretary general Kitack Lim to discuss the issue on Wednesday.
Seafarers have been injured on three of four confirmed attacks against vessels since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Plakiotakis said.
Since then, a number of commercial ships about to load or unload cargo were trapped in Ukrainian ports after military authorities shut down the terminals and stopped vessels from leaving.
Earlier on Wednesday, TradeWinds reported how the crew of one vessel in the port of Odessa feared being caught in the crossfire between Ukrainian war vessels berthed nearby and attacking Russian forces.
“We strongly fear that [the] ship and her crew will be used as human shields!” the ship’s manager told TradeWinds in an e-mail.
“We hope that Ukraine and Russia will come to an agreement to allow ships to sail.”
Alongside Greece and France, several other nations joined the call for an IMO meeting, including Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Cyprus and Malta.
Even countries from outside the EU support the request, such as the US and Australia, said Plakiotakis.
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