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Shipping Industry Issues Plea to UN to Protect Maritime Security and Seafarers

An official slides down a rope during a helicopter raid on MSC Aries ship at sea in this screen grab obtained from a social media video released on April 13, 2024.

Posted on April 22, 2024

The global shipping industry has sent an urgent joint letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, urging the UN to do more to protect maritime security and innocent seafarers.

The letter follows the recent seizure of the MSC Aries by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The open letter, co-signed by 16 maritime industry associations and social partners, calls for assistance and for all member states to be reminded of their responsibilities under international law.

The signatories of the letter highlighted the alarming situation, stating, “The incident this weekend, when the vessel MSC Aries was seized by Iranian forces…has once again highlighted the intolerable situation where shipping has become a target. This is unacceptable.”

The seizure of the MSC Aries has brought the issue of maritime security into sharp focus. The letter points out the increased attacks on shipping and the consequences for innocent seafarers. “Innocent seafarers have been killed, seafarers are being held hostage. This would be unacceptable on land, and it is unacceptable at sea,” the letter reads.

The shipping industry further called attention to the lack of global outrage in comparison to other hostage situations. “The world would be outraged if four airliners were seized and held hostage with innocent souls onboard. Regrettably, there does not seem to be the same response or concern for the commercial vessels and their crews being held hostage.”

Drawing attention to the role of seafarers during the pandemic, the letter emphasized, “Seafarers kept the world fed and warm during the pandemic with vital medicine, food and fuel delivered, irrespective of politics. Seafarers and the maritime sector are neutral and must not be politicised. It is the moral duty to protect seafarers.”

The letter ended with a plea for an enhanced coordinated military presence in the region, given the “continually evolving and severe threat profile.” It called for every possible effort to be made to release the seafarers and protect the safe transit of ships.

You can read the joint letter here.


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