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UAE: Case of Tamim Aldar highlights lack of accountability in Gulf ship abandonment

The MV Tamim Aldar was one of several ships abandoned by Elite Way Marine Services off the coast of the UAE with sailors stranded onboard. As of July 2019 the remaining four crew members (two Indians, two Eritreans) had been trapped 25 miles of the UAE for 33 months and in highly unsafe living and working condition. The men's salaries were allegedly pending since March 2016 and they had been stuck on board the ship since September 2017.

In May 2019, the ship's owner offered the crew payment of 50% of the owed wages; the majority of the crew accepted this with no further negotiation. In June 2019, the remaining four crew members left the ship in the one remaining lifeboat in desperation, but were forcibly returned to the ship by the UAE coastguard. The four sailors were later towed back to a UAE port.

As of August 8th 2019, the crew had been ashore in the UAE awaiting the resolution of their case; they had informed Human Rights at Sea that their case had been lodged as a criminal complaint with the UAE Coastguard.

These cases highlight the UAE’s reputation as amongst "the worst culprits" for abandoning seafarers, according to Jan Engel de Boer, senior legal officer at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Cases of ship abandonment in the Gulf have increased dramatically in the past two years and have been compared to modern slavery by the IMO and rights groups. Further, although a Maritime Labour Convention amendment allows abandoned seafarers to contact ships’ insurers after two months of overdue wages with a guarantee of four months’ pay, the UAE has yet to sign up to the Convention.

NGO Human Rights at Sea blames poor management by maritime companies as the root cause. Human Rights at Sea first became aware of the MV Tamim Aldar case in late 2018 and has since consistently advocated for justice for the workers.

In December 2019, it was reported in the National that the four seafarers had finalised an agreement with their employer to receive 80% of their wages. They had been abandoned onboard the Tamim Aldar for 33 months and owed a total of US$250,000 between them.

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Article
20 December 2019

Seafarer abandoned for three years off UAE will be home in time for Christmas

Author: Karen McVeigh, The Guardian (UK)

Today... [Vikash] Mishra, 34, the second engineer on the Tamim Aldar, has finally had the news he has been waiting for. He has been paid 80% of his wages and hopes to be home for Christmas...

Mishra, who is now in Dubai maritime city port, said via a WhatsApp audio message: “We are very lucky. So many people are abandoned here, without salary, without anything. After 39 months, I can go home and see my family..."

The company could not be contacted for this article. Mubarak Marine, a company which has been looking after the seafarers since August, did not respond.

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Article
20 December 2019

Stranded seafarers to return home after years abroad

Author: Nick Website, The National (UAE)

Four sailors who were stranded off the coast of the UAE for almost three years are expected to return to their home countries within a week.

The men had been left onboard the MV Tamim Aldar shipping tanker since March 2017 after their employer, Elite Way Marine Services, hit financial difficulties and was unable to maintain its fleet or pay the crew their salaries...

This week, Elite Way offered the men 80 per cent of their total payments in a settlement that will allow them to finally return home to their families...

Elite Way Marine Services did not respond to a request for comment.

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Item
19 December 2019

(Podcast) Beyond the Headlines: Stranded seafarers to return home after years abroad

Author: The National (UAE)

On December 19, 33 months after they were first abandoned at sea, the four seafarers finalised an agreement with their employer for 80 per cent of their owed wages.

We hear from Vikash Mishra one of the seafarers who has spent over three years away from his family as well as Rev Andy Bowerman from the Mission to Seafarers, a non profit that has been helping the crew. Senior Associate Shehab Mamdouh from the legal firm Fichte and Co. gives us an insight into maritime law.

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Article
21 August 2019

Seafarer abuse continues with low settlement offers for outstanding wages

Author: Human Rights at Sea

Seafarer and Indian national 34-year-old Vikas Mishra from Jaunpur who had previously suffered 35 months and 13 days onboard the UAE flagged MV Tamim Aldar owned by Eliteway Marine Services Ltd without pay and seeing his family... 

Since 8th August, Vikas and his fellow crew members have been ashore in the UAE... he has only received five months salary. To date, he is still owed over 30 months salary amounting to in-excess of USD 71,000...

The remaining seafarers including Vikas are now being offered only 66% of their owed wages while other crew who have signed off have been reportedly paid up to 80% of wages owed by Eliteway Marine.

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Article
11 July 2019

Seafarers trapped on ship for 33 months say jail threats forced them to reboard

Author: The Guardian

Seafarers who abandoned their [UAE-based Elite Way Marine Services owned] ship after being stranded at sea for almost three years say they were forced back to their boat after they were warned they faced jail. The four men... said they were told by coastguards that they faced two years in prison for leaving the vessel, the MV Tamim Aldar, and were advised to return... The Federal Transport Authority (FTA) of the UAE said no laws existed to imprison abandoned seafarers and confirmed they would not face arrest... [The men] warned the authorities they were leaving the ship... “In complete blackout, the vessel was not safe for our lives,”... the men described the harsh conditions on board, saying they had been forced to sleep outside in searing heat, at the mercy of mosquitoes and cockroaches. The men urged the UAE to “solve our issue and send us home safely”... In April, Elite Way Marine Services said they had encountered financial problems. They could not be contacted for this article.

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Item
1 July 2019

Abandoned seafarer podcast testimony to conditions endured on MV Tamim Aldar

Author: Vikas Mishra, Human Rights At Sea

The remaining crew onboard the UAE flagged MV Tamim Aldar, the remaining four seafarers (two Indian, two Eritrean) are currently under tow back to the UAE coast and port facilities... Vikas Mishra, who has been abandoned for 33 months and not seen his family or his daughter since she was nine months old, gave the following recorded testimony to Human Rights at Sea... Whether or not the remaining crew receive all wages owed under employment contracts from the owners, Eliteway Marines Services Ltd, is still yet to be determined.

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Article
1 July 2019

Update to abandoned Indian Seafarers of MV Tamim Aldar off UAE Coast

Author: Human Rights at Sea

The remaining abandoned Indian crew on the UAE flagged MV Tamim Aldar after they were returned yesterday to their deteriorating vessel by the UAE Coastguard following their own abandonment of the vessel... it took days for the crew to make the lifeboat serviceable for the dangerous 25 nautical mile journey to shore... The crew stated that they did not know what else to do, so they made a collective decision and were forced to leave for reasons of serious concern for their personal safety... once ashore and having had their case lodged as a criminal complaint... there was the suggested possibility of them going to jail... the crew have now had to accept their return back out to sea.

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Article
28 May 2019

Indian Seafarers Offered Fifty Percent of Wages Owed

Author: The Maritime Executive

Some Indian seafarers, who remain abandoned at sea in the UAE, have allegedly been offered only 50 percent of the wages they are due. The U.K.-based charity Human Rights at Sea says that most of the seafarers on two arrested vessels were in such a desperate situation that they accepted the offer without further negotiation... Human Rights at Sea has issued a statement saying the ongoing issue of abandoned Indian seafarers off the UAE, some for over 28 months, must now be brought to a swift end. The charity has consistently stated that such poor management behavior by maritime companies and owners towards their employees is entirely unacceptable in today’s society in a multi-billion dollar industry.

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Article
28 May 2019

Stranded Indian sailors off UAE coast send out SOS as food rations run out

Author: Mazhar Farooqui, Gulf News

Indian sailors stranded on a decaying merchant ship abandoned off the UAE coast have sent out an SOS as their food supplies have run out. For the past 31 months, engineers Vikas Mishra, 34, and Arsu Lobo, 49, have [stayed aboard] MV Tamim Aldar in the fervent hope of getting their salaries, which are allegedly pending since March 2016... the seamen are on the brink of starvation as their supplies have exhausted...

The cargo vessel on which the men are stranded since September 2017, flies a UAE flag and is owned by Dubai-based Elite Way Marine Services which has been caught up in financial disputes involving its other vessels... “We are hoping to come up with a solution soon,” [said Abdul Mahalik, an accountant at the company]. The sailors fear they will lose their bargaining power if they leave the ship. "... Four crew members who left the ship last month got just half of their outstanding salaries" [said] Mishra who claims the company owes him $65,000 (Dh238,745) towards 26 months of unpaid salaries.

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Article
26 May 2019

During Ramadan Indian seafarers remain abandoned in appalling conditions

The ongoing issue of abandoned Indian seafarers off the UAE coast due to the continued failure by Marine Service LLC to pay their wages, some for over 28 months, must now be brought to a swift end...

Rashed Abdulla Al Falasi, keeps negotiating the remaining and outstanding salaries, despite the fact that the Dubai-based law firm, Fitche & Co has arrested two of his vessels. He has offered the crew the payment of only 50% of their dues and they were in such a desperate situation that the majority accepted this offer without further negotiation.

The latest testimony from two remaining crew of the vessel MV Tamim Aldar is reproduced below in the seafarer’s own words.

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