Seafarers Granted Right To Refuse Red Sea Passage As Houthi Attacks Escalate


  • In response to escalating attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis on commercial ships passing through the Red Sea, a new industry agreement grants seafarers the right to refuse sailing through the high-risk area.
  • The International Bargaining Forum (IBF), representing seafarers and commercial shipping companies, introduced the measure, allowing seafarers to provide seven days’ notice before entering the area and enabling repatriation at the shipping company’s cost.
  • The decision emphasizes the safety of seafarers as a top priority and acknowledges the increasing sophistication of attacks in the region.

Industry Agreement on Seafarers’ Rights

Seafarers have been granted the right to refuse sailing on ships passing through the Red Sea in response to heightened attacks by Yemen’s Houthis. The International Bargaining Forum (IBF), which negotiates agreements between seafarers and commercial shipping companies, introduced the measure to address the safety concerns of seafarers amid escalating conflicts in the region.

Escalating Houthi Attacks and Safety Measures

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have been targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea using drones and missiles, citing acts of solidarity with Palestinians against Israel. Seafarers in the region face increased risks, leading to safety measures, including agreements for double pay in high-risk zones. The new IBF arrangement emphasizes seafarers’ safety, requiring a seven-day notice before entering the area and providing the right to be repatriated to another location at the shipping company’s cost.

Compensation and Response to Conflict Escalation

The industry agreement not only includes the right to refuse sailing but also offers compensation equal to two months’ basic wage. The decision to incorporate the seafarers’ right to refuse sailing was made in response to the escalating conflict, marked by more sophisticated attacks on commercial vessels. The safety of seafarers is prioritized over potential impacts on global trade.

Global Trade Impact and Houthi Actions

Acknowledging the potential impact on global trade, the IBF underlines the importance of prioritizing seafarers’ safety. Houthi attacks on commercial vessels continue, with the group vowing to persist as long as Israel is perceived to commit “crimes” against Palestinians. The Red Sea is a crucial maritime route, estimated to facilitate around 12% of global trade, further highlighting the significance of ensuring the safety of seafarers navigating through the region.

ITF’s Call for Mariners’ Release

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a leading union organization for seafarers, has called on governments to secure the release of 25 mariners held by the Houthis since the hijacking of their ship, the Galaxy Leader, on Nov. 19. The ongoing conflicts in the region emphasize the need for coordinated efforts to safeguard the well-being of seafarers facing increasing risks in the Red Sea.

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Source: Yahoo Finance