Seafarers’ centres represented at the ICMA Black Sea Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference report on how tough it has become to maintain facilities and staff.
Some centres, like Yalta’s, have long and proud histories. Others are fledgling operations, starting up to meet the needs of seafarers in the region.
The dedication of our chaplains to continue their work in the face of almost impossible odds, is all too apparent.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to afford centres or even centreless ministries. Chaplains, ship visitors and centre staff often volunteer their services. Good news is that the AoS report that it established a chaplain in Casablanca, Morocco, in February 2013. Father Arnaud de Boissieu, previously from Marseille, now visits crews onboard ships in Casablanca.
Port authorities in many cases have little understanding of chaplaincy, resulting in chaplains being denied access to ports and ships, and centres receiving little if any support from ports. Chaplains were urged to nurture relations with their ports. ICMA should consider ways to assist and train chaplains to engage in fruitful discussions with port authorities on ISPS interpretation regarding access and understanding the Maritime Labour Convention. Presently, in all of Ukraine, only Odessa’s port authority allows unfettered access for chaplains.
The Seafarers’ Centre in the Port of Yalta related just how difficult it is to maintain services. However, their survival as a centre is a story of marvelous resilience and innovation. They singled out Douglas Stevenson, and the Center for Seafarers Rights, for praise and gratitude for valued support over many years.