Seafarers COVID Relief Fund hits US$1 million target

Substantial donations from NYK Line and other donors pushes total funds past US$1 million goal; funds urgently distributed to support COVID relief efforts for seafarers and families

Seafarers COVID Relief Fund hits US$1 million target

The Seafarers International Relief Fund (SIRF) has reached its goal of raising US$1 million to provide vital relief for seafarers and their families affected by COVID.

The target was reached thanks to a substantial donation from NYK Line, plus many other personal and corporate donors, including most recently the TK Foundation. The total raised by SIRF currently stands at US$1.17 million. Further donations are very welcome and will enable SIRF to extend its crisis welfare response to the COVID pandemic.

The SIRF appeal was launched in May this year when the catastrophic scale of the latest wave of the pandemic in India became clear. Several leading seafarer welfare charities, including The Seafarers' Charity, The Mission to Seafarers, ISWAN, Sailors' Society and Stella Maris, as well as other shipping industry players, came together to explore ways to deliver urgent support to seafarers and their families. Together, they rapidly formed SIRF as an emergency relief initiative to raise funds to deliver rapid assistance, initially in India and with the potential to expand to other countries.

In less than three months, SIRF has raised more than US$1 million, all of which goes towards supporting seafarers and their families from the threat of COVID. The latest SIRF grants include funding for Stella Maris to provide food parcels to more than 1,000 seafaring families in Kochi, Kerala, plus funding for support workers to deliver post-COVID medical care, counselling, and therapy, including specialist care for children.

Speaking on behalf of SIRF, Catherine Spencer, Chief Executive of The Seafarers' Charity, commented:

"This was an ambitious goal, but one that reflected the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, particularly in India, where many seafaring communities have been badly affected, through lives lost and severe health impacts, as well as the personal costs for the livelihoods of seafarers. To have reached this goal in less than three months is a wonderful testament to shipping's global community. All our donors, big and small, have mobilised in support of seafarers and every dollar has helped to deliver urgent, life-saving support to those most in need."

Tomoyuki Koyama, Senior Managing Executive Officer, NYK Line, commented:

"This effort truly exemplifies the solidarity of the industry. Although our activity may have been small considering the impact that the pandemic has had on seafarers, we believe that all stakeholders within the international shipping industry should stand hand in hand with our seafarers, essential workers who are vitally needed to keep the worldwide supply chain in operation."

Although the COVID situation in India is stabilising, many other parts of the world are suffering from further waves of infection, including other seafaring nations, such as Indonesia, South Africa, and the Philippines. SIRF is looking at how it can extend its support to seafaring communities in other countries and, as Catherine explains, it remains grateful for further donations to fund its vital work:

"The funds raised will continue to support our work in India, where thanks to our delivery partners, we have been able to respond rapidly to the needs of those at risk. This has included funding for oxygenators, COVID care kits, food aid, and post-COVID support, as well as supporting a vaccination drive for seafarers. However, the pandemic is far from over, and the situation remains bleak in many nations. SIRF is looking at what we can do to help support seafarers in other countries, but this relies on your help. The SIRF appeal remains open for donations and we continue to ask you to dig deep in support."