IMO has responded to calls for council meeting over ships and seafarers trapped in the Ukraine and wider Black Sea region.

UN-body has called an extraordinary session of its council address the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

IMO said the virtual meeting on 10 and 11 March was being held the request of several council members.

Greece’s Shipping and Island Policy Minister, Ioannis Plakiotakis,revealed he personally contacted IMO Secretary general, Kitack Lim to discuss concerns about the safety of seafarers and vessels trapped in Ukraine.

Plakiotakis revealed the effort in a statement on his ministry’s website, as reports started coming in that seafarers have been injured during attacks against vessels since Russia invaded Ukraine, on February 24. Since then, commercial ships about to load or unload cargo have become trapped in Ukrainian ports after military authorities shut down the terminals and stopped vessels from leaving.

France, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, is also leading the initiative in calling on IMO to take immediate measures to protect seafarers in the war-torn region. Besides Greece and France, other nations that have joined the call for an IMO meeting include Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Cyprus and Malta.

Plakiotakis noted that countries from outside the EU, such as Australia and the US, are early supporters of the request.

Some 40 vessels are known to be trapped in the Ukraine with owners and crew facing harrowing times. For owners war insurance costs have soared and at least one seafarer has been killed and others injured in rocket attacks in the area.

Source: Seatrade Maritime News