Sailor’s Society launches piracy crisis response centre in Durban

The Sailors’ Society has launched a new Crisis Response Centre in Durban to support seafarers affected by piracy throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Using a team of port chaplains drawn from a range of maritime welfare agencies the centre is to provide a 24-hour service in South Africa, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique and Reunion, flying in teams to assist seafarers traumatised in piracy attacks.

The group highlighted recent research by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) which found that seafarers could exhibit symptoms similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) simply passing through high risk areas. OBP says that as many as 5,000 seafarers were attacked in the Gulf of Guinea, the Western Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia in 2014.

Sailors’ Society South Africa CEO, Boet van Schalkwyk will head up the Centre. “We were finding that traumatised crews were no longer being dispatched to Durban after their release, which raised fears that they were being repatriated before receiving frontline trauma counselling,” said van Schalkwyk at the launch of the Sailors’ Society Wellness at Sea programme at the International Maritime Lecturers’ Association (IMLA) Annual Conference yesterday.

“By making this resource available, we can meet this need for seafarers as near after an incident as possible,” he said.

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